Health and High Water Project: Frequently Asked Questions

Review our FAQs about Health and High Water to learn more about the project.

FAQs

Who is conducting the study?

RAND (a non-profit research organization with an office in Oakland), Homewood Children’s Village, University of Pittsburgh, and the Black Environmental Collective are partnering to conduct this study.

Who is funding the study?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).

Who is eligible to participate in the study?

Households that are currently part of the Pittsburgh Hill/Homewood Research on Neighborhood Change and Health (PHRESH) study and have basements are eligible to participate. Our study team will administer a screener survey to determine if interested participants are eligible before data collection begins.

Unfortunately, if you are not already a PHRESH participant, you are not eligible to participate in the data collection portion of the study. We will seek resident leaders to help with developing community solutions after data collection is complete and we encourage you to remain connected to the study. Contact PHRESH Field Coordinator La’Vette Wagner at (412)586-5695 or lmwagner@rand.org. to be added to a list for study updates and to be alerted about volunteer opportunities.

What are the benefits to me?

  • Participants receive $80 in Visa gift cards for completion of the household survey and environmental data collection, and ensuring that the air quality monitors are returned to the project team.
  • Household environmental data will be reported to participants so that they can compare their data with others and established thresholds from the EPA (when available).
  • Participants gain access to resources on addressing the impacts of heavy rain, damp basements, indoor air quality, asthma, and more.
  • Research will be shared with participants and the community at large through Homewood Children‘s Village.
  • Resident leaders will inform providers and policy makers about how to address inequities among populations resembling those in this study. The work will fill research gaps and help improve prevention and intervention.

What are the risks?

  • Psychological risks: Participants may feel embarrassment during survey assessments of physical and behavioral health as a result of disclosure of this information. They may also feel anxiety over the environmental data collection or results. We will ensure adequate training of data collectors and stringent data safeguarding measures, and we believe risks are minimal.
  • Inconvenience: Participants may experience inconvenience related to participating in the survey and/or collection of basement dust samples and installation of the air quality sensors.
  • Breach of confidentiality: It is possible that data collected from participants during the study will be discovered by individuals outside of authorized study personnel, despite careful steps to protect confidentiality.

What is the deal with the air quality monitor?

The air quality monitors used for our study are the Airthings Wave Plus model. They run on batteries and are about 4 inches across. They look like a small speaker.

We will attempt to place the monitor at breathing height. If you have a shelf in your basement at approximately the right height, we will put it there. If not, we will attach it to a wall, pipe, etc. using removable materials (e.g., 3M Command strip, zip ties) so as not to damage your walls, etc.

The monitor will be labeled with a Health and High Water study label. Please do not move or touch the monitor during the 30 day data collection window.

We will collect the air quality monitor after 30 days and will schedule this time with you.

What it measures:

  • We will be collecting month-long continuous measures of indoor air quality. This includes measures of humidity, temperature, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radon, and carbon dioxide.

What it doesn't measures:

  • This monitor is not a smoke detector. It can’t detect the presence of smoke.
  • It does not detect carbon monoxide (CO).
  • It is not connected to wifi or GPS, and does not have a microphone or any way to capture any other information about your or your household.

Why are you collecting dust samples?

  • Dust samples will be tested for mold and other contaminants that have been linked to health issues.

How many times will you visit my house?

Twice. Once to administer the survey, collect dust, and place the air quality monitor (45 minutes to 1 hour), and once again to collect the air quality monitor (5 minutes).

I’m a renter. Does my landlord need to know about this study? How will they be impacted?

Do I have to tell my landlord?

No, but we have a one-page document you can use to inform them about your participation if you would like.

The data coming out of this study will not be publicly linked to you or your property. The research team will be very careful to ensure no one outside of the research team will know if you participated.

Will my landlord find out about my participation?

If they have access to your basement, it is possible they will see the air quality monitor and ask about the study. (It will be labeled with study information.)

The data coming out of this study will not be publicly linked to you or your property. The research team will be very careful to ensure that no one outside of the research team will know if you participated.

Will this affect my property values?

The data coming out of this study will not be publicly linked to you or your property. The research team will be very careful to ensure that no one outside of the research team knows if you participated.

What will happen with my information?

We will not tell anyone about responses and answers learned from the study, except:

  • If we need to protect you or others from harm. (For example, if you say you want to hurt yourself or others.) In that case, we will give information about you to others that is needed to protect you or others from harm.
  • If you tell us about the abuse of a child or of an elderly person. In that case, information will be passed on to a supervisor who may contact authorities with the information.

It is possible that the authorized representatives from the following groups may access study records, if necessary, to protect the rights and welfare of participant:

  • The Office of Human Research Protections in the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (the federal regulatory agency)
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (the study sponsor)
  • The RAND Human Subjects Protection Committee (the committee that reviewed and approved this research study)
  • The University of Pittsburgh Office of Research Protections

Some of these records could contain information that personally identifies you. Reasonable efforts will be made to keep the personal information in your research record private and confidential but absolute confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.

We will share your name and contact information with our partners for the purposes of doing community outreach and inviting you to events related to this study.

Research records will be maintained for at least seven years following final reporting or publication of a project.

What are the outcomes of the study?

Resources on addressing the impacts of heavy rain, damp basements, indoor air quality, asthma, and more will be provided.

Research will be shared with participants and the community at large through community events and newsletters.

This research will help leaders understand the extent of the issue of basement dampness and related health outcomes. Resident leaders will be trained to advocate for changes and resources to better support people to address residential flooding, through household and community-level solutions.