Analysis and Action on the Environmental Determinants of Health and Health Disparities

EPA Grant Number: NIMHD006
Title: Analysis and Action on the Environmental Determinants of Health and Health Disparities
Investigators: Glover, Saundra , Wilson, Sacoby M. , Williams, Edith , Brandt, Heather , Zhang, Hongmei
Institution: University of South Carolina at Columbia , University of Maryland - College Park
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2014
Project Amount: $669,258
RFA: Transdisciplinary Networks of Excellence on the Environment and Health Disparities (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Human Health


The proposed environmental health core expands the scope of the Coordinating Center of Excellence in the Social Promotion of Health Equity in Research, Research Education and Training, and Community Engagement and Outreach (CCE-SPHERE), an NIMHD-funded Center of Excellence (CoE) housed in the Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities (IPEHD), at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. It builds upon the CoE expertise in the engagement of health disparity populations, development of community-university health research partnerships, understanding the role that social determinants of health play in driving health disparities including environmental health disparities, and training minority investigators from these health disparity populations in biomedical research through the creation of an Environmental Health Core (EHC) as the fifth core of the CoE. The EHC strengthens our collaborative efforts to meaningfully contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of environmental factors and health disparities in order to achieve health equity. The EHC also expands the CoE’s capacity to engage communities of color impacted by health disparities with a focus on environmental justice and environmental health disparity issues within the State of South Carolina.


The objective of establishing the EHC is to take resident expertise in environmental, social and behavioral science at USC-IPEHD and University of Maryland (UMD) and an expansive community network to conduct environmental, community-based participatory and translational research focused on addressing environmental stressors in South Carolina.


The core supports three pilot research projects. Project 1 focuses on linking the SC DHEC EPHT program to the work of the CCE-SPHERE. Also as part of project 1, we begin to build the CoE’s environmental health tracking infrastructure and analysis in its current research framework to focus on cancer, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, important health disparity issues in the State of South Carolina. Project 2 focuses on understanding community perceptions of environmental determinants of cancer risks in rural and urban communities in South Carolina (Orangeburg, SC and Metropolitan Charleston, respectively). We use a series of listening sessions and Photovoice to gather qualitative information about the environmental concerns of local residents and their concerns about environmental determinants of cancer risk. Project 3 uses some of the information from both Project 1 and Project 2 in the development of a new block assessment methodology that allows community residents to evaluate community strengths and deficits through an environmental health lens with a focus on ecologic determinants of health. Learning laboratories are used as a way to discuss the block assessment methodology and train residents in the methodology to map their neighborhoods.

Expected Results:

The expected results of the work of the Environmental Health Core are to: 1) Build a program to assess environmental health disparities in the state through data collected by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Program; 2) Assess community perception of environmental determinants of cancer risk and disparities in rural and urban communities in South Carolina; and 3) Engage and train members of community-based organizations that represent environmental justice communities and environmental health disparity populations in the use of the block assessment methodology to help stakeholders identify ecological stressors and intervene to address disparities in burden, exposure, and health.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 24 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Environmental health; rural; urban; health disparities; public health policy; community-based participatory research; translational research; partnerships; environmental stressors; photo-voice; community block assessment; environmental health tracking; community perceptions; ecologic determinants;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • Final Report