Final 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 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 School of Public Health’s Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research, we built capacity for researching environmental contributors to urban health disparities, such as water and air pollution and unequal burdens of pollution. 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 were 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 MPH and PhD programs in Public Health.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Developing a coalition that is focused on environmental health disparities research:

Outputs: As part of the efforts to build a coalition, members of the environmental health core have been engaged in meeting with and building collaborations with numerous stakeholders working in environmental health in the Atlanta area. This includes strengthening relationships

with non-governmental organizations, county and state environmental health practitioners, and community based organizations as well as other academic institutions in the area. Three meetings were held and supported by GSU’s EH core in 2013 to engage stakeholders in the Atlanta area around environmental health disparities. These meetings were held on February 28, 2013, April 19, 2013 and November 22, 2013. The first meeting involved participants from neighborhoods and community based organizations representing environmental issues within and around Atlanta. Also in attendance were faculty from Georgia State University. A total of 15 members participated and discussed opportunities to identify community issues and resources available to build capacity around the issues. The second meeting, an all-day environmental health disparities workshop on April 19, 2013, was held at GSU. Organizations represented included CDC, EPA Region IV, Federal Reserve Bank, Georgia Tech, Emory (both schools of Public Health and Medicine), Spelman, Conservation Fund, Greenlaw, Riverkeepers, English Avenue, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, National Environmental Health Association, Design for Health, Proctor Creek Stewardship, Eco-Action, Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Georgia Department of Public Health, and others. The last meeting consisted of 15 attendees and focused on building on the existing meetings. We also produced a report that was shared with the members of the meetings on the current status of the activities and ways to continue to build connections and collaborations.

Outcome: The overall outcome of this activity has been increased participation in meetings for activities in environmental health research in Atlanta. Currently, members from the environmental health core are engaged in collaborations with community based organizations as well as participate in Emory University’s advisory board for their Environmental Health Center. However, more work is needed to enhance the role of stakeholders and increase the ability to collaborate across institutions which still remains challenging.

Work to build capacity to evaluate and mitigate environmental health risks specific to urban natural, physical, and built environments and incorporate a multidisciplinary approach evaluating the role of environmental exposures into current Center pilot projects.

Outputs: The main outputs were equipment acquisition, student and community member training and successful collection of pilot data in a variety of areas. The Center of Excellence acquired equipment to monitor air pollution through passive and active monitors. This includes 200 reusable devices for monitoring NO2, two portable particle number concentration monitors and two black carbon monitors. We also purchased two stationary condensation particle counters to enable particle size measurements. Two pilot products were conducted using this equipment.

Pilot project 1: In collaboration with one of the existing R01 grants within the center, the Neighborhoods Matter project, the EH core has worked to investigate traffic-related air pollution in diverse neighborhoods of Atlanta. Our primary goal in the study was to estimate exposures to traffic-related air pollution in neighborhoods in which public housing residents have relocated. We sampled four census tracts of varying poverty levels (low (<20%), medium-low (20-30%) medium-high (30-40%) and high (>40%)) in which residents participating in the Neighborhoods Matter study had moved. We measured nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as the marker

for traffic-related air pollution by placing 30 monitoring in each census tract (for a total of 120 sites overall). We recruited more than 20 Master of Public Health and Sociology students as well as community volunteers to install and remove the monitors in October 2012. Initial results (presented at scientific conferences and in preparation for publication) suggest that census tracts with highest poverty levels were exposed to statistically significantly higher levels of NO2 as compared to the lower poverty census tracts during the two week time period. This work also led to the submission of a collaborative grant application (still under review) to the US EPA regarding community based air monitoring in the neighborhoods mentioned above.

Pilot project 2: In collaboration with a community based organization, Mothers and Others for Clean Air, this project was also supported by a grant from Kaiser Permanente to Mothers and Others for Clean Air. The goal of the project was to monitoring air pollutants at a school both prior to and after installation of vegetative barriers. Students and teachers at the school were also engaged in the monitoring and installation of the vegetative barriers. The results have been presented at conferences and are in preparation for publication as well.

While the two pilot projects discussed above focused on air pollution, faculty have also been actively engaged in collaborations with organizations on focused on water quality issues in Atlanta. In partnership with the Chattahoochee River Keepers and the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance as well as the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council we have supported workshops, written letters of support for partner grant applications and engaged in outreach and citizen science research activities.

Outcome: The main outcomes were increased research and outreach activities around environmental exposures and health disparities in Atlanta. Overall, we were also able to use the resources provided by the grant to leverage additional funds through other grants. One publication, 12 presentations, four student theses and a total of eight grants were submitted. Four of these grants have been funded. The acquisition of equipment to measure air pollution has resulted in increased resources for measuring air pollution as well. In November 2014, a new faculty member who specializes in air pollution research joined Georgia State University’s Environmental Health Division. He was able to bring additional air pollution equipment and received (intramural) funds for additional equipment that will increase the types of pollutants that we can measure. In May 2015, we were able to recruit a senior environmental health scientist to GSU’s Environmental Health Division. He also brings additional financial and laboratory resources with which to continue to enhance the division and our collaborations with community partners.

Develop an EH focus area in the current MPH and PhD programs in Public Health.

Outputs: The main outputs were development of curriculum and launching the environmental health concentration in the MPH program. The program was launched in fall 2012 and we had our first graduate in May 2013. We have developed curriculum for environmental health students that enables them to get practical experience with measuring air and water contaminants as well as increased the number of environmental health faculty members from

three to six which is in part due to the support we have had through the EH core grant. We have four graduates from the MPH program from the Environmental Health Division with 20 students currently enrolled.

Outcome: Increased presence of Environmental Health MPH graduates from GSU in the environmental health workforce including government, not-for-profit, and private companies.


Conclusions: The environmental health core supplemental grant provided the opportunity to increase environmental health disparities research, teaching and outreach activities at the Center, the School of Public Health and GSU. We have strengthened collaborations with community based organizations, other academic institutions and within the Center. We are dedicated to continuing this work and to strengthen our understanding of disparities in exposure to environmental threats in order to work to eliminate them.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 17 publications 1 publications in selected types All 1 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Michael J. Solt, Daniel M. Deocampo, and Michelle Norris, Spatial Distribution of Lead in Sacramento, California, USA, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 3174-3187; doi:10.3390/ijerph120303174. NIMHD005 (Final)
not available

Supplemental Keywords:

Environmental health, health disparities, urban health, community

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report