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University of Iowa

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Brandi Janssen
Co-Investigator: Helena H. Laroche
Grant Number: P42ES013661
Funding Period: 2006-2025
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Project Summary (2020-2025)

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) facilitates bidirectional interactions between community stakeholders and the ISRP researchers who study polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a class of Superfund chemicals. These bidirectional interactions are critical to ISRP's long-term goal of improving the health and well-being of populations by preventing or limiting exposure to PCBs through scientifically-informed interventions. ISRP studies demonstrate that inhalation of indoor air, especially in schools in the United States contaminated with airborne PCBs, represents a significant and current public health concern for school-aged children. The CEC is an important integrating core for the ISRP because it develops partnerships with communities impacted by PCBs, serves as a source of information and educational resources for these communities, and acts as a liaison between partner communities and researchers. The CEC is fully integrated with ISRP research projects and other cores and has existing or developing relationships with the partner communities. Columbus Junction, Iowa, and East Chicago, Ind., have been active participants in the ISRP AESOP prospective human cohort study since 2006, during which time the CEC has facilitated a variety of school- and community-based engagements. West Liberty, Iowa, is proposed as a new AESOP cohort community and will also be the location of several proposed Sources of Airborne PCB Congeners Project activities focused on source characterization and remediation of airborne PCBs in schools and homes (these activities are ongoing in Columbus Junction and East Chicago). More than 100,000 people live within 5 km of the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site, where the current ISRP Sources of Airborne PCB Congeners Project found large emissions of gas-phase PCBs. Building on this important discovery, the Mitigating Airborne PCB Emissions from Sediments with Black Carbon Materials and PCB-Degrading Biofilms Project will research how to reduce PCB emissions from New Bedford Harbor, and the CEC will facilitate bidirectional interactions focused on "report-back" engagements designed to harvest community input and share relevant ISRP research findings. Their community partners in Columbus Junction and West Liberty have already brainstormed various health campaign designs and have agreed to assemble and maintain community advisory boards to inform and oversee jointly-pursued activities.

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