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University of Iowa

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Craig L. Just
Grant Number: P42ES013661
Funding Period: 2006-2024
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2015-2020)

As measured by the articulations of the Community Advisory Boards (CABs) and Iowa Superfund Research Program (isrp) partner school personnel, the Community Engagement Core (CEC) has made a significantly positive impact in East Chicago, Indiana, and Columbus Junction, Iowa, where the Core's primary engagement activities take place. The satisfaction of community partners is the Core's ultimate success metric. The Core recognizes that the ongoing success of the CEC, and the isrp, will require continued partnership in these communities. The CEC has contributed to the development paths of East Chicago and Columbus Junction and future plans for success include opportunities for growth and for deepening of relations.

The CEC has and will continue to engage its partner schools and will address community issues related to airborne PCB exposure and remediation. The engagements proposed by the CEC are innovative in that they sustain successful, longstanding aims that focus on partner schools while introducing new aims that respond to stakeholder input in the context of isrp research outcomes. For example, the CAB in Columbus Junction suggested the CEC lead an effort to investigate the remediation of airborne PCBs in homes where measured concentrations are above mean values. In the context of knowledge disseminated by the CEC, and in partnership with the RTC, the CAB hypothesized that wall paint, old fluorescent , and foam-based furniture could be PCB emission sources. In response to this hypothesis, the CEC agreed to propose a modest, community-based research effort to test the hypothesis. The research approach has been developed in consultation with the CAB, faculty and staff representing isrp the Atmospheric Sources of PCB Congeners and Airborne Exposures to Semi-volatile Organic Pollutants (The AESOP Study) projects, and Research Translation Core (RTC) staff. The CEC will also collaborate with social scientist, Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc., to develop robust interview tools and methods that will garner Institutional Review Board approval and lead to scholarly publications, facilitated by the CEC, in partnership with Columbus Junction community members.

The CEC is also building relationships between isrp faculty and staff, the RTC, a small business focused on environmental remediation, and facilities staff and council members from the town of Altavista, Virginia. Altavista has been dealing with a PCB contaminated site for years and the CEC secured permissions to study the fate of PCBs in poplar trees (Phytoremediation to Degrade Airborne PCB Congeners from Soil and Groundwater Sources) at the site. This aim will be pursued with heavy involvement from the RTC, project researchers and Larry Robertson, the isrp administrator, who has been to the Altavista site to discuss remediation strategies with town officials.

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