2012 Progress Report: Center of Excellence: Environmental Health Disparities Core

EPA Grant Number: NIMHD005
Title: Center of Excellence: Environmental Health Disparities Core
Investigators: Eriksen, Michael , Casanova, Lisa , Dai, Dajun , DeoCampo, Daniel , Hankins, Katherine , Hemphill-Fuller, Christina , Stauber, Christine , Steward, John A.
Institution: Georgia State University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2014
Project Period Covered by this Report: September 22, 2011 through July 31,2012
Project Amount: $472,252
RFA: Transdisciplinary Networks of Excellence on the Environment and Health Disparities (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Health


By establishing an Environmental Health Core within the Institute of Public Health’s Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research, we are building capacity for researching environmental contributors to urban health disparities, such as water and air pollution and unequal burdens of pollution. The fundamental philosophy guiding the core will be the riskscape. This is “a holistic approach that untangles the double jeopardy of chronic stressors and environmental hazards to elucidate their role in disparities” [Gee and Payne-Sturges, 2004]. Urban populations face multiple economic and social stressors, including poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and lack of access to health care, transportation, affordable housing, quality education, and healthy foods. The Center’s focus on syndemics explores how these stressors shape disparities in the urban environment. However, they are also surrounded by stressors in their physical environment unique to the urban landscape: air pollution, lead poisoning, brownfields and other polluted areas, neighborhoods of abandoned and blighted properties, food deserts, and environmental injustices in the siting of highways, parking lots, and industrial sites. The economic and social stressors can operate to increase people’s vulnerability to these environmental risks [Morello-Frosch et al., 2001]. The complex ways in which all of these stressors operate alone and interact with each other is the urban riskscape. Disparities in the urban environment demand a holistic approach to understand all risks as an organic unit. This requires the kind of comprehensive and multidisciplinary resources that exist in the Center. The main objectives of the project are to:

  • Develop a coalition of organizations, agencies and institutions focused on environmental health, justice, and disparities in the Atlanta area.
  • Work with the Research and Community Engagement cores to build capacity to evaluate and mitigate environmental health risks specific to urban natural, physical, and built environments.
  • Work with the Research Core to incorporate a multidisciplinary approach evaluating the role of environmental exposures into current Center pilot projects.
  • Work with Community Engagement Core to strengthen and expand research and mitigation activities focused on the environmental health priorities of the Center’s community partners.
  • Develop an EH focus area in the current M.P.H. and Ph.D. programs in Public Health.

Progress Summary:

1. Development of community involvement. 

In collaboration with Eco-Action, members of the EH Core organized a meeting with community leaders from neighborhood planning unit-V (NPU-V) in January 2012. This meeting was held at Georgia State University (GSU) and included the president of the NPU-V, Micah Rowland, and Columbus Ward a community lead from Peoplestown (a neighborhood within NPU-V). In addition to this meeting, members from the EH core have participated in two meetings held in NPU-V and hosted by our collaborating organization Eco-Action in February 2012. It was during these meetings that illicitly dumped tires were identified as a major concern. As a result, a volunteer tire clean-up day was organized. This activity is described in more detail in the section discussion of the CSAW initiative.

In collaboration with Mothers and Others for Clean Air and community members from NPU-G, we began discussions about how to measure the effectiveness of vegetative barriers as a means to reduce traffic-related air pollution originating from highways. Discussions also included evaluation of potential locations for placement of vegetative barriers. Groups in the discussion included Mothers and Others for Clean Air, NPU-G, Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Fulton Industrial Community Improvement District and Charitable Connections.

2. Development of research projects in collaboration with existing projects from the Center of Excellence.
We have created a sampling plan to monitor traffic-related air pollutants (TRAP) in low and high poverty census tracts within the city of Atlanta. Because of delays in receiving access to the funds, the monitoring campaign will take place in fall 2012. In brief, the work that has been completed for this project includes the following:
  • Selection of four census tracts for monitoring that differ in poverty level.
  • Creation of multiple maps showing demographic variables and proximity to sources of TRAP.
  • Selection of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as the marker of TRAP.
  •  Determination of required monitoring equipment for the passive monitors for sampling of NO2.
  • Creation of a detailed study protocol that outlines the specifics of the monitoring campaign.
3. Development of community-engaged/outreach activities.
During March 2012, we participated in the Atlanta Tire Clean-up. Dozens of community members, organizations, the GSU Institute of Public Health, faculty and students associated with CSAW participated in the mapping and collection of over 3,500 tires in seven neighborhoods in Atlanta.

Future Activities:

Monitoring of traffic-related air pollutants (TRAP) in low- and high-poverty census tracts within the city of Atlanta will take place in fall 2012.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 17 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Environmental health, health disparities, urban health, community

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • Final Report