The academic-community partnership between NCA and Dr. Erin Haynes was collaboratively written and published (Haynes, Beidler et al) Environ Health Perspect 2011 describing the partnership. Together, Dr. Haynes and Caroline Beidler conducted a community-wide survey which was completed by 271 community members. They found that the community was very concerned (91%) about local air quality and believed that air quality had a direct impact on their and their children’s health.
They asked community members to rate their knowledge of Manganese (Mn) exposure and asked if they wanted to know more about Mn exposure. Only 11% reported “a lot” of knowledge; 87% reported “yes” to learning more about their exposure. To identify which information source would be ideal for communicating Mn exposure information to the community, they identified that the community receives most of its information from websites (88%), environmental groups (88%), and news reporters (84%).
These findings launched a NIEHS-funded R01 grant to address the community’s concern and the community advisory board’s primary question: “Does Mn affect the cognition and behavior of children?” and directed the communication and engagement strategy with the Marietta community to include training for educational workshops for NCA on air particles, air modeling, and Mn exposure and through their local news media in the form of a monthly environmental health section, EnviroNotes.
Another publication reports the formative evaluation of an educational website by 7-9 year old children. Designed by Dr. Lisa Meloncon the child portion of the CARES website, “The CARES Playground” provides interactive educational information on air quality and health for 7-9 year old children. The “CARES Playground” testing resulted in an article that provides a set of tested guidelines for creating websites for children, and it is the first of its kind in the field of technical communication (Meloncon et al Tech Comm 2011). The article was awarded the distinguished article award in the top rated journal Technical Communication. The article has also been nominated for the National Council of Teachers’ of English Best Article Reporting Empirical Research in Scientific and Technical Communication.
The purpose of this outreach activity was to identify the thoughts and perceptions of genetic research of Appalachian Americans residing in eastern Ohio. The genetic research questionnaire was developed in collaboration with COEC members Drs. Erin Haynes and Meloncon, and NIEHS T32 Gene Environment Interaction trainee, Dr. Amy Fullenkamp. It was distributed to the CARES participants in Marietta and Cambridge, and to the pilot study participants in East Liverpool, Ohio.
The genetic survey was completed by 180 participants. Participants had a high interest in learning more about genetic research studies (90%). When asked what information would be useful when deciding to participate in a genetic research study, the following were most important: how environmental pollutants affect their and their child’s genes (84%), types of biological specimens needed for genetic research studies (75%), and who will have access to my samples (75%). Almost 80% of the participants stated that they would be interested in participating in a genetic research study. Of the 43% who responded that they were “unsure” about participating in a genetic research study, the leading reason was “I don’t have enough information about genetic research to make a decision” (56%). Additionally, they found that the most preferred method for receiving information was reading a brochure (40%).
From this survey, our COEC now knows what types of information would be useful to potential genetic research study participants and how best to deliver the information as they make a decision about participating. We will use the findings of this community survey to improve community education materials and dissemination methods for community populations engaging in CEG-member genetic research.
Dr. Haynes has developed partnerships with Ohio House of Representative State Representative, Denise Driehaus, EPA National Water Laboratory, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Southeast Ohio Fracking Interest Group (SEOFIG), Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), and public health officials in Mid-Ohio Valley.
“We want to educate our citizens about the toxic chemicals and gases produced by the hydraulic fracturing process and what effect this may have on the water, air, ground and subsequently humans and animals in our community," said SEOFIG member, Betsy Cook.
CHEJ did not have the capacity to map the gas well permitted sites provided on the ODNR website, so Dr. Haynes partnered with UC Department of Geology to create the map for CHEJ. CHEJ is now able to show community members the location of these wells.