Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2016

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

John Steward

Second Advisor

Christina Fuller



Prioritizing Environmental Hazards Through Focus Groups

In NPU-V and Proctor Creek Watershed, Atlanta, Georgia


Molly Morgan Dunham-Friel

July 2016

INTRODUCTION: This study set out to gather data on residents’ opinions of the community environmental conditions in Neighborhood Planning Unit-V (NPU-V) and Proctor Creek Watershed (PCW) in Atlanta. This research built on previous research conducted in these Atlanta communities. This research provides a prioritized list of environmental hazards and concerns of residents living in NPU-V and PCW, in order to inform further scientific research, education, and exposure reduction strategies.

AIM: To understand and prioritize environmental health concerns in NPU-V and PCW as voiced by community residents.

METHODS: With approval from the Georgia State University Institutional Review Board (IRB), we organized and conducted three community focus groups. Community organizations provided space for focus groups and assisted with recruitment of volunteers through posting flyers, electronic notices, and person-to-person outreach. The focus groups were held in June and July, 2016. The researchers asked a series of questions in an open-ended format and asked each participant to complete a short evaluation at the end of the focus group. Responses were recorded in Microsoft Excel.

RESULTS: The community members identified air quality, water quality, drinking water, flooding, dust/pollution in homes and brownfields as their highest priorities. The top three prioritized health hazards identified by the community members were flooding, air quality/pollution, and brownfields. The health hazards that were discussed were cancer, asthma, other respiratory illnesses, emphysema, diabetes, and hypertension, with an emphasis on asthma and cancer. The community showed great interest in being provided data on their community’s brownfield composition and child asthma rates. The prioritized list of environmental hazards that were discussed most frequently by the residents were flooding, air pollution, and brownfields.

DISCUSSION: The findings from this research suggest that while residents have many environmental health concerns, the three issues that resurfaced frequently were: flooding, air pollution, and brownfields. These are the prioritized environmental hazards that the community identified and are seeking solutions. The results of this focus group can inform future environmental health research in Atlanta and provide preliminary research for grant funding applications.

Appendix 1.docx (29 kB)
Appendix 1 Informed Consent

Appendix 2.xlsx (83 kB)
Appendix 2 Focus Group Questions

Appendix 3.docx (26 kB)
Appendix 3 Evaluation Questions