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URMC / EHSC / Community Engagement Core / Community Projects and Partnerships


Active Community Projects and Partnerships

The CEC is actively involved in the following projects and partnerships (listed alphabetically). For an archive of past CEC projects, please visit our projects archive.

Air and Health

Air Sensor Stories

These materials and workshop were developed to help diverse audiences understand the potential of user-friendly air quality sensors to address communities’ questions and concerns about particle pollution. It provides a basic introduction to the sources, regulations, and health effects of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), an overview of the many user-friendly models of sensors on the market, and an interactive “Action Plan” activity to help participants apply what they have learned to a real problem.  Optional interactive activities are provided to help participants explore key concepts and how sensors work. The workshop is designed to take between 1 and 3 hours, depending on how many hands-on activities are integrated.

Wildfire Smoke

Following wildfire smoke events in our region in Summer 2023, local organizations in Rochester identified a need for kid-friendly information about wildfire smoke and its effects. The Activity Sheet, “Why Should I Play Inside Today?”, is designed for elementary school-aged children to explain why they may have to stay indoors and how they can stay safe from wildfire smoke, even if the fire itself is hundreds of miles away. The accompanying Caregiver Guide, intended for parents, educators, healthcare providers and other caregivers, provides links to key background information and actions children and caregivers can take. Additional resources on wildfire smoke and children’s health are available for more information.

The Activity Sheet is designed to be printed on 8.5x14 (legal size) paper. To print on 8.5x11 (standard letter) paper, choose “Fit” and unselect “Choose paper source by PDF page size” when printing to ensure no content is lost. Note that this may make the activities too small for some children.

Community Environmental Health Science Education

The CEC develops, supports and conducts a wide range of activities to enhance the environmental health literacy of diverse audiences.  We partnered with Science Take-Out, a science education company, and three other community engagement programs to develop eight interactive community environmental health (CEH) kits. The CEC also provides ongoing opportunities to interact with area educators and students through the Life Sciences Learning Center.

Diacetyl and Lung Health

Diacetyl is a buttery-smelling chemical that was formerly used to flavor microwave popcorn and is naturally produced by roasting and grinding coffee beans. Previous studies of people who inhaled high amounts of diacetyl showed that the chemical can cause severe lung disease, particularly obliterative bronchiolitis. New research by Center member Dr. Matt McGraw suggests that exposure to diacetyl in combination with flu infection can cause greater health problems. Working with Dr. McGraw, the Community Engagement Core, and staff from the Finger Lakes Occupational Health Services clinic, University of Rochester student Sophia Samantaroy created a research summary and infographic to communicate the potential occupational health risks of diacetyl exposures for industrial coffee roasters.

Healthy Homes

In 2006, the Southwest Area Neighborhood Association (SWAN), the Rochester Fatherhood Resource Initiative (RFRI), and the University of Rochester Medical Center created a Healthy Home to help the community reduce home-based environmental health hazards. Although the Healthy Home is closed to the public as of December 2009, visitors to this website can learn about the Healthy Home partnership that developed through this project, take a virtual tour of the Healthy Home, and access local resources.

Health Impact Assessment

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a policy and planning tool use to provide decision-makers with information about how their proposed plans and policies will likely impact the health of the communities they serve. In 2011, the CEC convened the Rochester Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Learning Collaborative. Now facilitated by the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, the HIA Learning Collaborative aims to educate community leaders about HIA, promote its application in our area, and explore its long-term potential to improve community health through local decision making. 

The CEC continues to actively promote HIA in the Rochester community through this collaborative and other efforts that bring environmental health information into local decision making. In 2012-2013, CEC staff also conducted an  HIA of the City of Rochester's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (Healthy Waterways).

Visit the CEC HIA website to learn about HIA and read about Healthy Waterways. 

Lead Poisoning Prevention

Despite significant progress over the past decade, lead poisoning remains a threat to many children in the Rochester community. The CEC is involved with several lead poisoning prevention activities, including evaluation and support of the Rochester Lead Ordinance. Visit our lead page to learn more about CEC activities to prevent lead poisoning.

Microplastics and Human Health

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that can be manufactured directly or arise from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic. Microplastics have been found in water, plants, animals, and even human bodies, giving rise to public concern. However, their effects on human health are uncertain. Researchers at URMC and RIT are studying the health effects of exposure to microplastics. The Community Engagement Core developed a brochure to provide an overview of what is known and what is being studied. The brochure is optimized for printing as a trifold brochure but is also available for digital viewing. The brochure was created using information from these sources.