Communities that are exposed to metals often have limited resources, partnerships, and scientific knowledge that will aid in mitigating the impact of these metals on later-life health risks. Such limitations challenge the ability to prioritize, and mitigate community-relevant exposure pathways and possible health risks. An approach based on bi-directional communication and problem-solving, citizen science, and provision of practical mitigation systems through a co-implemented intervention could provide lasting value to affected communities. The Community Engagement Core (CEC) will serve a critical role in the MEMCARE-SRC by developing a partnership between local residents and stakeholders in rural and urban communities with our SRC team members and trainees to understand community needs and enhance broad understanding of metals and metals mixtures, identify exposure pathways and mitigation approaches, and promote education and public policy to characterize risk and empower community members as advocates of their own health around metals exposures. CEC?s rural community partnership is based in the San Luis Valley, Colorado, which is affected by the Nelson Tunnel/Commodore Waste Pile and Summitville mine Superfund sites. In both areas, groundwater and soil are contaminated with a variety of metals, including arsenic, cadmium, manganese, lead, and chromium. CEC?s urban community partnership is based at Dimock Community Health Center (DCHC) in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA. DCHC provides care for individuals living in the surrounding community, which is challenged with household metal exposures, a high burden of environmental metal exposures, and high poverty rates. The CEC will: 1) identify concerns of pregnant women regarding exposures to toxic metals in their community and the impact on offspring health; 2) lead a citizen science effort to collaboratively collect and assess individual metal and metal mixture levels from drinking water and soil samples as well as urine and toenails of pregnant women and children from urban and rural communities; and 3) co-implement a remediation intervention using commercially available water filters and innovative new MEMCARE-SRC developed technologies to reduce community metal exposures, with effectiveness tested by participating community members. The CEC will use methods and technologies to detect hazardous substances in the environment as part of a community-based approach to assess and mitigate the risks of these substances to human health. The CEC is one of the most fundamentally integrated components of the MEMCARE-SRC as it will partner closely in the research of all for SRC research projects and establish lasting and productive partnerships with the community, including routine evaluation of this partnership to ensure bi- directional exchange to provide the community with key information about metal exposures and options for remediation. In addition the CEC will provide an opportunity for MEMCARE-SRC researchers to develop novel solutions that are driven by community concerns surrounding metal exposures on maternal and child health.

Public Health Relevance

Communities that are exposed to metals often have limited resources, partnerships, and scientific knowledge on adverse health effects nor means to reduce or mitigate exposure. The goal of the Community Engagement Core is to use an approach based on bi-directional communication, citizen science, and co-development and implementation of an intervention to remediate metals exposures to reduce exposure in Superfund affected communities. We will work with local residents and stakeholders in Roxbury, Massachusetts and San Luis Valley, Colorado to: (1) identify concerns regarding exposures to toxic metals; (2) collaboratively collect and assess individual metal and metal mixture levels from drinking water, soil, urine, and toenail samples; and (3) co-implement a remediation intervention by using commercially available water filters to reduce metals mixtures exposures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Hazardous Substances Basic Research Grants Program (NIEHS) (P42)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Harvard University
United States
Zip Code