Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,045 Total Non-Federal Funds: $30,185
Principal Investigators: Kristine Willett
Abstract: The Project Team, drawing upon our complementary expertise within the University of Mississippi (UM) Schools of Pharmacy, Law, and the College of Liberal Arts, proposes to conduct community-based participatory research and an assessment of residential drinking water supplies and water supply infrastructure in the Mississippi Delta. This interdisciplinary research will assess multiple social science approaches to engage stakeholders and influence policy on the current state of lead contamination in drinking water in Mississippi. Specifically, we propose to engage participants in the New Pathways to Health Initiative and Right! From the Start Initiative to: 1. Conduct training and outreach on the public health risks associated with lead contamination in drinking water, proper water sampling and testing methods, exposure prevention options, and regulatory requirements; 2. Collect and analyze residential water samples and gather information about plumbing materials from sampled homes in seven Delta counties (Bolivar, Coahoma, Panola, Leflore, Quitman, Sunflower, and Tallahatchie); 3. Assess the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of communities at risk of experiencing elevated lead levels in drinking water based on the results of the sampling data; 4. Compare five different approaches to community engagement to evaluate stakeholder perceptions, beliefs and participation in citizen science; 5. Conduct an analysis of the legal framework in Mississippi governing contaminants in drinking water to identify gaps in environmental or public health monitoring and oversight and need for legal reform; and 6. Draft a final report summarizing and integrating the research findings to guide public health interventions by project partners, public water systems, and state and local health agencies within the Delta and throughout the state. Ultimately, this project has the potential to fundamentally safeguard public health because survey and sampling results will help assess the risks of lead contamination in the Mississippi Delta, assist with the identification of lead service lines and lead plumbing within the distribution systems, and design and guide scalable research and outreach efforts to minimize lead exposure through use of filters and/or behavioral changes.