Publications by authors named "Ben Echevarria"

3 Publications

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A randomized crossover trial of HEPA air filtration to reduce cardiovascular risk for near highway residents: Methods and approach.

Contemp Clin Trials 2021 09 28;108:106520. Epub 2021 Jul 28.

Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, United States of America.

Background: Near highway residents are exposed to elevated levels of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP), including ultrafine particles, which are associated with adverse health effects. The efficacy of using in-home air filtration units that reduce exposure and potentially yield health benefits has not been tested in a randomized controlled trial.

Methods: We will conduct a randomized double-blind crossover trial of portable air filtration units for 200 adults 30 years and older who live in near-highway homes in Somerville, MA, USA. We will recruit participants from 172 households. The intervention periods will be one month of true or sham filtration, followed by a one-month wash out period and then a month of the alternate intervention. The primary health outcome will be systolic blood pressure (BP); secondary outcome measures will include diastolic and central BP, C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and D-dimer. Reasons for success or failure of the intervention will be evaluated in a subset of homes using indoor/outdoor monitoring for particulate pollution, personal monitoring, size and composition of particulate pollution, tracking of time spent in the room with the filter, and interviews for qualitative feedback.

Results: This trial has begun recruitment and is expected to take 2-3 years to be completed. Recruitment has been particularly challenging because of additional precautions required by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discussion: This study has the potential to shed light on the value of using portable air filtration in homes close to highways to reduce exposure to TRAP and whether doing so has benefits for cardiovascular health.
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September 2021

Health Lens Analysis: A Strategy to Engage Community in Environmental Health Research in Action.

Sustainability 2021 Feb 6;13(4). Epub 2021 Feb 6.

Macro Department, Boston University School of Social Work, 264 Bay State Rd., Boston, MA 02215, USA.

Health Lens Analysis is a tool to facilitate collaboration among diverse community stakeholders. We employed HLA as part of a community based participatory research (CBPR) and action study to mitigate the negative health effects of TRAP and ultrafine particles (UFPs) in Somerville, MA. HLA is a Health in All Policies tool with previously limited implementation in a North American context. As part of the HLA, community and academic partners engaged residents from across near-highway neighborhoods in a series of activities designed to identify health concerns and generate recommendations for policies and projects to improve health over an 18-month planning period. Noise barriers, which may reduce TRAP exposure among residents in addition to reducing traffic noise, were seen as an acceptable solution by community stakeholders. We found HLA to be an effective means to engage stakeholders from across sectors and diverse community residents in critical discourse about the health impacts of near-roadway exposures. The iterative process allowed the project team to fully explore the arguments for noise barriers and preferred health interventions, while building a stakeholder base interested in the mitigation of TRAP, thus, creating a shared language and understanding of the issue.
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February 2021

Two communities, one highway and the fight for clean air: the role of political history in shaping community engagement and environmental health research translation.

BMC Public Health 2020 Nov 11;20(1):1690. Epub 2020 Nov 11.

Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership, Somerville, MA, 02145, USA.

Background: This paper explores strategies to engage community stakeholders in efforts to address the effects of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP). Communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental threats including emissions generated by major roadways.

Methods: Qualitative instrumental case study design was employed to examine how community-level factors in two Massachusetts communities, the City of Somerville and Boston's Chinatown neighborhood, influence the translation of research into practice to address TRAP exposure. Guided by the Interactive Systems Framework (ISF), we drew on three data sources: key informant interviews, observations and document reviews. Thematic analysis was used.

Results: Findings indicate political history plays a significant role in shaping community action. In Somerville, community organizers worked with city and state officials, and embraced community development strategies to engage residents. In contrast, Chinatown community activists focused on immediate resident concerns including housing and resident displacement resulting in more opposition to local municipal leadership.

Conclusions: The ISF was helpful in informing the team's thinking related to systems and structures needed to translate research to practice. However, although municipal stakeholders are increasingly sympathetic to and aware of the health impacts of TRAP, there was not a local legislative or regulatory precedent on how to move some of the proposed TRAP-related policies into practice. As such, we found that pairing the ISF with a community organizing framework may serve as a useful approach for examining the dynamic relationship between science, community engagement and environmental research translation. Social workers and public health professionals can advance TRAP exposure mitigation by exploring the political and social context of communities and working to bridge research and community action.
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November 2020