The University of Arizona Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences

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Monday | October 27, 2008

Atmospheric Sciences Department Reaches Out to the Tucson Hispanic Community

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PhD student, Theresa Foley (advisor, Eric Betterton) has been awarded a NASA Spacegrant Fellowship to work with the UA Superfund Basic Research Program (UA SBRP), US EPA and Sonora Environmental Research Institute, Inc (SERI), a Tucson community organization, to analyze and translate airborne metals data into useful information.

The UA/NASA Space Grant Program provides six fellowships per year to graduate students studying science and engineering. Space Grant fellows are required to complete an educational outreach project as part of their fellowship. Theresa Foley is a 2008 Space Grant fellow who will be conducting her outreach program in partnership with the UA SBRP and SERI, a non-profit group that seeks to enhance community involvement in health and environmental issues. SERI focuses much of its effort in the largely Hispanic neighborhoods located on the south side of Tucson. SERI has created an innovative environmental health education program called Community Assist of Southern Arizona (CASA), which is primarily funded by the US EPA. CASA implements its goals through a Promotora program, in which individuals from the neighborhood are trained on environmental health issues and conduct community outreach. Additional funding comes from an EPA P2 grant to support UA SBRP research translation and outreach specialists, Monica Ramirez, Denise Moreno Ramirez and Rocio Estrella, and SERI.

Pima County Department of Environmental Quality Air Division monitors beryllium at six PM10 sites located in the Sunnyside Unified School District. Now SERI has obtained funding to analyze the same PM10 samples for seven additional metals: lead, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, manganese and nickel. Theresa will be analyzing the metals data and translating her results into a format that is culturally sensitive and relevant for Mexican and Mexican American residents of Tucson. She will create informational brochures discussing the results of the beryllium study, the health effects of various metals and concentrations of naturally occurring metals in Arizona. (Metals research, specifically arsenic, is an important part of the UA SBRP. Please refer to the UA SBRP research projects for more information). Theresa will also be conducting an outreach program by giving presentations to neighborhood associations and parent-teacher associations within the Sunnyside School District. An important part of Theresa's outreach program will be training the Promotoras from CASA. Rocio Estrella from the UA US-Binational Center will translate Theresa's brochures into Spanish and will provide simultaneous translation during outreach presentations.

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