The overarching goal of the Community Outreach and Translation Core of the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center at Dartmouth is to effectively translate and communicate the research findings from our Center's investigators to the key stakeholders concerned with protection and promotion of children's health. Our Center's focus on in utero and early childhood environmental exposures to arsenic (and other heavy metals) in water and food, and the application of novel biomarkers and research methods to identify mechanisms of the developmental origins of disease pose great scientific promise but also significant risk communication challenges. During the formative phase of our Center's development, much of our work focused on exploration of these issues and communication challenges, in particular those raised by our investigator's studies related to arsenic content in foods. Working closely with our Center's Child Health Specialist we focused our initial community outreach and translation on three groups of key stakeholders: 1) women of childbearing age using private well water sources enrolled in the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study (the parent study for our Center's research);2) The Dartmouth/Northern New England Primary Care Research Cooperative (COOP), a voluntary, cooperative network of independent clinicians practicing in New Hampshire and other rural communities in Northern New England;and 3) the Mascoma Valley Health Initiative (MVHl), a nonprofit, grassroots, regional public/community health coordinating agency. During this next phase of our Center's development, we will continue to work with and engage these three groups of key stakeholders to collaboratively develop, implement and evaluate ways to improve risk communication and provide technical support regarding the focus of the research of our Center, in utero and early life exposure to arsenic (and other heavy metals) through water and food. Our goals are to integrate environmental health screening into the clinical environment and to create effective materials and methods for risk communication that will advance and inform the research in this area and serve as adaptable models for others working in the fields of children's environmental health and disease prevention.
The COTC will enhance the knowledge of the public, health care providers and study participants of the Center about the risks of environmental exposure to metals, and the regional importance of groundwater arsenic. It will provide valuable tools and resources for clinicians and public health/community practitioners in rural communities to promote well water testing and reduction of exposure to metals in food and water and serve as a model for other programs.
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