Community Outreach Core
The Community Outreach Core (COC) will work with the Research Translation Core (RTC), with our Advisory Boards in East Chicago, Indiana and Columbus Junction, Iowa and with school principals in Chicago to address their environmental concerns through measurements of airborne PCBs in their communities, integration of these activities with ongoing educational programs, and dissemination of the findings to the communities at large. The Community Advisory Board in Indiana has for several years felt that PCS contamination from industrial sources in its community is a potential health problem. Projects 4 and 6 are outgrowths of these concerns. The detailed exposure measurements in families, homes, schools and around the proposed storage site for the dredging of the Indiana Harbor directly address these issues.
Although PCB contamination is of less concern to the communities in Columbus Junction and Chicago, both these groups have a long history of working with project investigators on asthma related projects and are enthusiastic about extending their involvement to examination of airborne PCBs. Measurements in these communities will build upon well developed existing infrastructures, utilizing the resources of the schools and mobile vans in Chicago that regularly visit 43 schools in the city. During the implementation phase of the project we will hire community residents to assist in data collection and educational programs, which will be integrated into existing activities at local schools and community agencies.
Aim 1: To address community concerns about the effects of dredging in the area of East Chicago, Indiana, near two area public schools.
Aim 2: To relate these concerns to community and personal exposure to atmospheric PCBs over a four year period.
Aim 3: To develop and implement an outreach educational program in collaboration with schools in Chicago and with our partners in East Chicago, Indiana, and Columbus Junction, Iowa.
At Columbus Junction, IA, extensive teaching mainly by David Osterberg but also Larry Robertson has brought PCBs onto the school science curriculum. Middle school science teachers Janice Rutt and Diane Olson have invited Osterberg into their classrooms to deliver several presentations on PCBs and environmental health research. Students from the school have twice visited isrp laboratories at the UI and another field trip is planned for May of 2009*. The middle school principal, Jeff Maeder accompanied the students on the 2008 field trip. Students have been encouraged to consider the presence of PCB hazards in their own community and learn how scientists approach environmental health research. In addition, students have been urged to consider careers in science. Columbus Community School District Superintendent Rich Bridenstine has expressed his enthusiasm for working with the isrp, he chairs the advisory board that guides isrp researchers in working effectively with a mixed Latino and non-Latino population.
Video of the November 18, 2008 visit to isrp laboratories by Columbus Junction 7th graders (two download versions provided):
Parallel to the work in Columbus Junction has been work in the schools in East Chicago. Again Project #6, the COEC and the RTC have cooperated in the educational efforts. Vicky Persky, Mary Turyk, Annissa Lambertino as well as Osterberg have taught classes on PCBs and other environmental contaminants. All the isrp researchers and staff have cooperated closely with middle school teachers Kimberly Martinez, Erik Kundich and B. Albrecht. The West Side Junior High Principal Renee Pluchinsky, the Assisant Principal Veronica Williams and Superintendent Juan Anaya have all communicated with the various Cores and Programs to make the teaching and other research translation activities go smoothly.
Members of both communities are being kept aware of the science research going on within their borders through our teaching. Parents have been able to see materials students have taken home including PCB models which were built by the students during class periods at the schools. Besides interaction with the community advisors, teaching through the schools are a means that the community is being kept aware of the work. We will use these contacts to relay any significant findings identified in the course of this study.
Core Leader: Craig Just, PhD, Core Co-Leader
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Associate Research Scientist, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa.
Co-Core Leader: David Osterberg, The University of Iowa
Mr. Osterberg is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health with a secondary appointment in the Department of Geography at The University of Iowa. He was a six-term member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1983 to 1994, chairing both the Agriculture Committee and the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, and a candidate for the US Senate in 1998. He served as special assistant to the Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on global climate change and renewable energy (1999-2000) and then created the Iowa Policy Project (IPP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization, that produces reports on a variety of issues facing Iowa policymakers.
Mr. Osterberg directs the Community Outreach and Education Program for the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the University of Iowa. In that role, he provides leadership on statewide environmental health outreach and education. He most recently led the risk communication team on a study of water quality in small Iowa towns with no centralized water system. He directed communications and follow-up with local and state officials, the departments of Natural Resources and Public Health, local media and environmental organizations in several small communities including Buckeye, Iowa, where 10 of 10 wells sampled recorded high levels of arsenic. In this project he will assume primary responsibility for activities at the Iowa site.