In the last few decades, there has been an increase in community-based participatory research being conducted within the United States. Recent research has demonstrated that working with local community organizations, interest groups, and individuals can assist in the creation of, and sustainability in, health initiatives, adoption of emergency protocols, and potentially improve health outcomes for at-risk populations. However little research has assessed if communal concerns over environmental contaminants would be confirmed through environmental research. This cross-sectional study collected survey data and performed surface water analysis for heavy metals in a small neighborhood in Houston, TX, which is characterized by industrial sites, unimproved infrastructure, nuisance flooding, and poor air quality. Surveys were completed with 109 residents of the Manchester neighborhood. Water samples were taken from thirty zones within the neighborhood and assessed for arsenic (As), barium (Ba), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), selenium (Se), silver (Ag), and mercury (Hg). Survey results showed that the vast majority of all respondents were concerned over proximity to industry and waste facilities, as well as exposure to standing surface water. Barium was discovered in every sample and many of the zones showed alarming levels of certain metals. For example, one zone, two blocks from a public park, showed levels of arsenic at 180 (μg/L), barium at 3296 (μg/L), chromium at 363 (μg/L), lead at 1448 (μg/L), and mercury at 10 (μg/L). These findings support the hypothesis that neighborhood members are aware of the issues affecting their community and can offer researchers valuable assistance in every stage of study design and execution.
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