- Sa Liu, PhD, MPH, CIH
- Deborah Corcoran, BSB
- Jennifer Johnson, PhD
Research Project Description
This project examines environmental contamination and community health in the deindustrialized Midwest. Together we focus on one community in Indiana where residents continue to source their water from a groundwater body long contaminated by multiple toxic chemical plumes released by former industries. While this community is exceptional in many ways, it is increasingly reflective of broader regional trends, especially with respect to rising rates of cancer and poverty. By engaging multiple methodological approaches and a range of community members we will pursue three intersecting research questions:
- How do differentially-situated community members perceive and respond to information about the risks that environmental contamination poses to their health;
- What are the levels of risk associated with exposure to different sources of the same environmental contaminant; and
- Do (and if so how do) levels of risk differ in relation to socioeconomic and environmental factors, such as income, education, family size, and primary water source?
Our overall goal is to improve how information on exposure risk is produced and consumed to motivate meaningful improvements in health outcomes and health equity. In the process, we aim to increase awareness of possible exposure risks, outline evidence-based responses, and identify opportunities to increase the accessibility and affordability of clean water. We hope that answers to our research questions will motivate community members to make safer choices when sourcing their water whenever possible, and to effectively advocate for their own rights to clean water and substantial reductions in environmental contamination in their community and in others like it.
Sa Liu, PhD, MPH, CIH
Dr. Sa Liu is an Assistant Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences at Purdue University. Her research focuses on assessing chemical exposures in the workplace and communities. She is passionate about assessing and addressing community exposures to environmental contaminants through community engaged environmental health research.
Deborah Corcoran, BSB
Ms. Deborah Corcoran, BSB, is a community partner of an ongoing academic-community partnership between Purdue University and the Martinsville Indiana Superfund Site Association. She is a business owner and runs a thriving flower shop. Ms. Corcoran is a volunteer community member who is actively engaged in efforts to increase awareness of and conduct research on environmental contamination in her community and others like it in Indiana.
Jennifer Johnson, PhD
Dr. Jennifer Lee Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University. Her research examines complex human-environment interactions at the confluence of ecological, economic, and socio-political transformations. As an engaged ethnographer, Johnson works alongside residents - in eastern Africa, where she has conducted long-term fieldwork since 2007 and in the US Midwest, where her work has only just begun - to improve lives and livelihoods.