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Addressing Community Health Disparities from Hazardous Waste (In Progress)


Funded in early 2022, this project seeks to develop a network of academic researchers and social justice organizers to empower communities of color to address health disparities rooted in systemic racism. It will target communities affected by hazardous waste from former manufactured gas plants (MGPs), using a neighborhood in Champaign, Ill., as a living lab. 

MGPs converted coal and oil to gaseous fuel used for cooking and lighting in the 19th and early 20th centuries but also generated large quantities of coal tar and toxic wastewater — which eventually seep into groundwater. Further, MGPs commonly emitted harmful gases into the homes of nearby residents.

Researchers will develop low-cost sampling devices to monitor ambient and indoor air, water, and soil quality and build the capacity in communities to use them — thus developing a model to crowdsource environmental monitoring data that can be used at the national level.

Purpose of the Work: Campus Connection

An interdisciplinary team from community health, environmental engineering, and epidemiology will work with the nonprofit Champaign County Health Care Consumers and residents of Champaign’s 5th & Hill neighborhood, involving the community in all stages of the research process from design to implementation — and sharing the risk assessment findings.

The project will support local environmental justice efforts and promote long-term community health benefits while creating a blueprint for community-academic partnerships to address environmental racism.

No description has been provided yet.

Project Team

  • Team Members:

    • Vishal Verma, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Roland D. Cusick, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Sarah Geiger, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Community Health


  • Approved January 15, 2022
    Approved by iSEE