The University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) recently hosted a community talk in Dewey-Humboldt, AZ. Residents of the town live in proximity to the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site, which are sources of potentially exposure to metals. Since placement of the site on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List in 2008, the UA SRP has acted as an information resource for the affected community.
The purpose of this meeting was to bring community members together with UA SRP scientists to discuss environmental exposures in an informal question-and-answer setting, and to provide information on the upcoming Metals Exposure Study in Homes (MESH). The study seeks to discern whether metals are entering local homes and children, and if so, by what pathways? The meeting was held at the Lonesome Valley Wranglers 4-H Clubhouse, thanks to local resident and 4-H leader Angela Teskey.
The meeting began with UA SRP researcher Dr. Walt Klimecki providing a basic introduction to principles of exposure and toxicology. Participating faculty from the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health include Drs. Miranda Loh and Paloma Beamer, who built on these principles to explain details of the upcoming MESH project, and Dr. Philip Harber, a Professor of Public Health and expert in occupational-environmental and pulmonary medicine, who was present to respond to questions about health. Other UA SRP personnel included MESH study coordinator Nathan Lothrop, Research Translation Coordinator Dr. Sarah Wilkinson, and Community Engagement Coordinator Denise Moreno Ramirez.
Community members and UA SRP personnel engaged in discussions about study details, as well as general questions about metals and health, and effective ways to limit exposure. Meeting participants were encouraged to let UA SRP personnel know what topics might be of interest for community meetings in the future.
Local reporters were also in attendance, and provided coverage of the meeting in the Prescott Valley Tribune: “Health risks for kids in Dewey-Humboldt? University researchers want to find out”.