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Your Environment. Your Health.

ENGAGING COMMUNITY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF LOW-COST TECHNOLOGIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING TO PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH LITERACY IN A LOW-TRUST SETTING

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Principal Investigator: Carrera, Jennifer S.
Institute Receiving Award Michigan State University
Location East Lansing, MI
Grant Number K01ES029115
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 01 Jul 2018 to 30 Jun 2021
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): PROJECT SUMMARY My research objective in this Transition to Independent Environmental Health Research (TIEHR) Career Award (K01) proposal is to assess the impact of co-developed, low-cost technologies for water quality monitoring on environmental health literacy (EHL) and community-efficacy to protect public health. My ultimate career goal is to establish evidence-based pathways for engaging with communities to enhance public health through the co- development of low-cost technologies to meet unmet community scientific needs. Through community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods, I will address the question, what role do co-produced, low-cost technologies play in community capacity for mobilizing to address health inequities? The public health emergency in Flint, Michigan that began in April 2014 when the city switched water sources highlighted a national crisis around water infrastructure in the United States that is complicated by a lack of a sense of shared governance around drinking water provision. Greater environmental health literacy (EHL) could have provided residents with resources for protecting their personal health while navigating conflicting recommendations about boil orders, filters, and concerns about bacteria-contaminated aerosolized water droplets. Many residents sought resources to help decide for themselves whether their water is safe; however, few tools are specifically designed for use by the public. Using a CBPR approach, the specific aims of this project are to: 1) characterize the factors affecting the utility of publicly available tools for environmental monitoring for improving EHL and protecting personal health; 2) assess how the co-development of low-cost technologies for environmental monitoring influences EHL for community-efficacy; and 3) describe how the use of low-cost technologies for environmental monitoring affects trust in science and scientists. We hypothesize that: co-development of low-cost technologies for water quality monitoring will lead to increased EHL; low-cost tools for water monitoring will provide resources that allow increased trust in some official water data sources; and low-cost tools for water monitoring will increase community capacity for mobilizing to protect water-affected public health. My prior work using CBPR and citizen science looking at water quality and community organizing in Detroit, the strong partnerships that I have established in Flint over the last two years, and the guidance of internationally recognized environmental health scholars that make up my mentoring and advisory team will ensure that the research and career development goals of this K01 are met, will provide preliminary data for me to be highly competitive for an NIEHS R01, and will situate me as a leader in innovative technologies for improving EHL. Training through this grant will enhance my capacity to contribute to the co-development of new community-centered technologies through: formal and online coursework in skill development for mobile application programming and open source tools; laboratory and field experience in heavy metals and microbial analysis; and community engagement through the active direction of a community-based mentor. .
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 94 - Communication Research/Environmental Health Literacy
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Lindsey Martin
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