HERCULES Pilot Leads to EPA Funding for West Atlanta Project

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded Emory University researchers $1.35 million to work with members of the West Atlanta community to better understand any potential risks in the area for exposures among children to lead and heavy metals and metalloids, along with other environmental contaminants. Soil contamination in this community was originally identified through  HERCULES Pilot Program funding awarded to Dr. Eri Saikawa. Dr. Saikawa will continue this work in collaboration with the HERCULES Targeted Analysis Core Lead, Dana Barr, among others.

From the original Pilot award, this work has been conducted in close collaboration with the HERCULES Community Engagement Core, including involvement of Stakeholder Advisory Board Member Gil Frank of Historic Westside Gardens.

“A key part of this project is strong engagement with the community,” says Eri Saikawa, associate professor in Emory’s Department of Environmental Sciences, who is the lead contact and co-principal investigator on the grant. She notes that the researchers will hold regular meetings with residents to learn their needs and concerns before testing for environmental contamination and exposures, and to communicate findings as the project proceeds.

“We want to make sure that community members are not just subjects of the research but are involved in ways that help them benefit from the science,” Saikawa says. “Ultimately, we want to raise awareness of the community members and provide them with educational materials specific to their needs to help lower the risks of their families being exposed to toxicants. We also hope our data will help in the development of holistic regulatory frameworks to prevent exposures to environmental contaminants in underserved communities around the country.”

Read the full story by Carol Clark in the Emory Report.