Application of Citizen Science Risk Communication Tools in a Vulnerable Urban Community

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Dec 22;13(1):ijerph13010011. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13010011.


A public participatory geographical information systems (PPGIS) demographic, environmental, socioeconomic, health status portal was developed for the Stambaugh-Elwood (SE) community in Columbus, OH. We hypothesized that soil at SE residences would have metal concentrations above natural background levels. Three aims were developed that allowed testing of this hypothesis. Aim 1 focused on establishing partnerships between academia, state agencies and communities to assist in the development of a community voice. Aim 2 was to design and conduct soil sampling for residents of the SE community. Aim 3 was to utilize our interactive, customized portal as a risk communication tool by allowing residents to educate themselves as to the potential risks from industrial sources in close proximity to their community. Multiple comparisons of means were used to determine differences in soil element concentration by sampling location at p < 0.05. The results demonstrated that eight metals (As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Mo, Se, Tl, Zn) occurred at statistically-significantly greater levels than natural background levels, but most were below risk-based residential soil screening levels. Results were conveyed to residents via an educational, risk-communication informational card. This study demonstrates that community-led coalitions in collaboration with academic teams and state agencies can effectively address environmental concerns.

Keywords: MapplerX; environmental contaminants; environmental justice; environmental justice index; health disparities; public health exposome; public participatory geographical information systems; toxics release inventory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Communication
  • Consumer Health Information / methods*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Pollution / prevention & control*
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Humans
  • Metals / analysis*
  • Ohio
  • Risk Assessment
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*


  • Metals
  • Soil Pollutants