University of Texas at El Paso

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The Encuentros Project
is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health (RO1-ES11367). The purpose of the project is to evaluate environmental lead exposure among children in the border community of El Paso, Texas using a community-based public health research approach. The El Paso border region is characterized by many factors that may increase the risk for childhood lead exposure, including poverty, overcrowding and substandard housing, lack of infrastructure, and history of an extensive mining industry. 
The study objectives are to:
1)     Estimate the geographic distribution of environmental lead contamination
2)     Estimate the environmental lead in and around selected households
3)     Estimate the prevalence of elevated blood lead levels (EBL) in children
4)     Differentiate chronic and acute lead exposure in children with EBL
5)     Involve the community in the research process and in the definition of intervention strategies to reduce children’s exposure to lead


    The research team is headed by Dr. Maria Amaya, Professor of Nursing in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The multidisciplinary team includes scientists from UTEP, the Paso del Norte Center for Border Health Research, and a Coalition of Community Based Organizations managed by  the Femap Foundation that includes:  Organización Popular Independiente, A.C. (OPI), Adults and Youth United Organization (AYUDA), and Salud y Desarrollo Comunitario, A.C. (SADEC). The Project is in the fifth and last year. A team of researchers and community health workers collected soil samples from 500 blocks in El Paso and Cd. Juárez and results that describe the geographic distribution of environmental lead contamination in soil can be found at the Preliminary Results link. Indoor household testing and blood collection is underway. Community health workers are NOW VISITING neighborhoods to invite randomly selected households to participate in study and children to test their blood for lead levels.


This website fulfills the mission of community-based participatory research as envisioned by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. This site links the research team and the community partners to the larger community hoping to provide timely information about the project. Please, feel free to contact us if you would like more information.

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