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Keeping it close to home with imby.

"imby"--which stands for "in my back yard"--is a community health and environment research center in the University of Cincinnati Department of Environmental Health. It was founded in 1999 in response to the request voiced by residents, environmental advocates, and community-based organizations at a prior NIEHS Town Meeting for a better understanding of research methods and greater access to study findings. Launched with funding from the department and the NIEHS Center for Environmental Genetics at the university, imby's mission is to build community partnerships to assess, address, and improve environmental and public health issues through access to resources, effective strategizing, capacity building, advocacy, research, and analysis and interpretation of data.

The "back yard" served by imby includes various neighborhoods in Cincinnati. The center partners with the Urban Appalachian Council on an NIEHS Environmental Justice: Partnerships for Communication grant that provided technical expertise for the design, conduct, and analysis of two community-based participatory research projects in the Lower Price Hill (LPH) neighborhood. The first was the LPH Children's Health Survey. Members of the LPH Environmental Leadership Group (a group of community residents organized around environmental health issues) were trained in survey research methods including survey design, randomization, recruitment and interview techniques, quality control, and confidentiality procedures. Neighborhood residents have created and published a comic book to communicate results of the survey to area residents. Community educational programs are being developed to address the significant findings of the survey in areas such as lead poisoning, asthma, ear infections, and smoking cessation. In another project, imby is now working with the LPH Environmental Leadership Group and the Urban Appalachian Council on an LPH Women's Health Survey. This questionnaire was translated into Spanish so area Latinas could participate in the survey.

imby has also partnered with the Fernald Community Health Effects Committee (F-CHEC). F-CHEC is a grassroots organization of residents living around a former uranium enrichment facility that was shut down by the Department of Energy in 1989. Citizens concerned about the potential impact of the Fernald site on the health of area residents as well as current and former workers formed F-CHEC in 2002 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disbanded the Fernald Health Effects Subcommittee. imby provides training and technical expertise to F-CHEC and also collaborated with F-CHEC to prepare a grant proposal to the Citizens' Monitoring and Technical Assessment Fund.

The resulting project, titled "Fernald Area Cisterns and Wells: What Is Known and What Does the Public Need to Know?," includes a survey of area residents to determine the historical and present-day uses and maintenance patterns of residential cisterns. The questionnaire will provide important information about cistern water as a possible route of exposure for Fernald area residents to radiological, chemical, and heavy metal contaminants.

imby has worked with community residents in neighborhoods outside Cincinnati as well, including Jesus People Against Pollution (JPAP), a grassroots organization in Columbia, Missouri. JPAP had file drawers full of questionnaires that had been completed by area residents in a project to characterize people's exposure to and possible health effects from explosions at a nearby Superfund site. imby worked with JPAP to organize the surveys, develop a data entry program, and train residents to use it so that the survey results could be analyzed.

imby will also play a role in the recently funded NIEHS Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. For more information on imby projects, visit the program's website at http://www.eh.uc.edu/imby/.
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Title Annotation:beyond the Bench
Author:Brown, Kathryn M.
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:587
Previous Article:Breast cancer takes center stage.
Next Article:Low-level ozone, particulate matter, and children with asthma.


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