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University of California-San Diego

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Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Keith Pezzoli
Co-Investigator: Wael Al-Delaimy
Grant Number: P42ES010337
Funding Period: 2005-2023
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2011-2017)

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) is a community-university partnership to help reduce exposures to crossborder flows of hazardous wastes and to improve environmental public health in the San Diego-Tijuana city-region. The CEC utilizes community-based participatory processes to engage and learn from community leaders how best to assist in building the capacity of vulnerable communities to identify, prioritize and address Superfund-related environmental health hazards and issues. They do this with the help of a CEC advisory committee composed of community leaders, scientists, government officials and several grassroots environmental organizations active in the U.S.-Mexico border region. The Core has four aims:

  1. In consultation with community partners, produce and update a toxicant survey and environmental health protection needs assessment for the Tijuana-San Diego border region based on literature, workshops, existing field research (e.g., source tracking of hazardous waste flows), and some testing of soil, sediment and water by the Research Translation Core.
  2. Launch a series of community workshops in partnership with Casa Familiar (San Diego) and Alter Terra (Tijuana), the Core's two lead community-based partners, titled "Making Science Matter; Community-University Engagement for a Healthier Society." These workshops bring community leaders, experts and scientists together in a two-way learning experience where the community learns about the relevant translational science from the SRP Center, and researchers learn from the communities their regional needs, priorities and concerns to help develop future research directions as well as explore the solutions to environmental health issues dealing with Superfund toxicant exposures. Two areas of concern identified by community partners include the contamination taking place as a result of uncontrolled hazardous waste disposal, and soil contamination in areas where people are growing their own food.
  3. Co-create with the community partners individual and team-based opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to design and carry out community-based service learning projects.
  4. Building on the success of the Los Laureles Canyon documentary the Core will co-author a series of bilingual (Spanish-English) reports, guides and science communication videos with community partners that can serve as community empowerment tools.

The Core's progress will be systematically evaluated using a logic model on an annual basis with input from our external advisory committee. Researchers will share their progress and lessons learned with border communities, the U.S.EPA, ATSDR, PEPH, and the NIEHS Community Engagement network.


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