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Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health to Evaluate Environmental Threats in Southwestern Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 30, 2009 – The Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) has been contracted by The Heinz Endowments to conduct an analysis of the major threats to the environment and health of people who live and work in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Regional Environmental Threat Analysis (PRETA) will identify these threats throughout the region’s 10 counties.

“Environmental health encompasses all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health,” said Conrad D. Volz, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., PRETA principal investigator, director of CHEC, and assistant professor of environmental and occupational health, GSPH. “Given southwestern Pennsylvania’s industrial legacy and diverse topography, this kind of analysis is vitally important to the health of residents across the region.”

Study investigators plan to identify and interview key informants from southwestern Pa. about their perspectives of the most important local environmental threats. The data they gather will guide the development of an online survey targeting environmental, regulatory, academic and policy making organizations in the region. Analyses also will involve scanning and surveying related databases, publications, Web sites, newspapers and the monitoring of well-documented regional environmental threats. Data gathered and analyzed will be compared to current regulatory standards and national norms.

Other CHEC faculty and staff involved in PRETA include Ravi Sharma, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral and community health sciences, GSPH; Charles Christian, M.Ed., director of operations; Andrew Michanowicz, M.P.H., research assistant; and Samantha Malone, M.P.H., communications specialist.

PRETA is funded through a $250,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments to CHEC to improve environmental health in western Pennsylvania.

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