July 26, 2023

two women at a table
A researcher conducts an oral history interview with a community member. (Photo courtesy of Brittany Fremion)

As part of a NIEHS-funded Research to Action project, researchers from the Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) Core Centers at Emory University and the University of Michigan collected and analyzed oral histories from people who experienced the aftermath of polybrominated biphenyl contamination in Michigan in 1973. Using themes identified from their analysis, the researchers developed a conceptual framework that shows how the community sought knowledge, overcame mistrust in institutions, and addressed contamination and health effects.

“The oral histories show how the knowledge of Michigan community members was often ahead of the scientific research and state-agency response, and this is reflected in the framework,” said Amy Schulz, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan EHS Core Center. “We believe this framework can help researchers and those working with communities see the importance of community capacity in shaping environmental health response.”

Learn more in this Partnerships for Environmental Public Health newsletter article.