Community Meeting

We are making progress with our research. Some samples had to be processed and analyzed sample-by-sample and this is finally completed. We look forward to sharing the results this spring! In the meantime, please mark your calendars with the date April 20th 10-12 AM at the 4-H Fairgrounds. We hope to see you there!

The Research Team

Community Meeting

Demographics from the Hartford City Study

In the table below we have provided the demographics of those who completed the online survey and those who completed the full study (including soil, water, urine and toenail samples). The first number is the count and then the percentage is listed in parenthesis. So, for example, a total of 283 people completed the online survey (100%), but only 17.4% of those who completed the online survey are under 40 years old (51 people). Most of the respondents (37.1%) are between 40 and 65 years of age. A total of 80 people completed the full study, and 47.7% of them are also between 40 and 65 years of age.

Characteristic Completed online survey Completed full study
Total 283 (100) 80 (100)
<40 years 51 (17.4) 11 (13.8)
40-65 years 105 (37.1) 35 (47.7)
>65 years 92 (32.5) 34 (42.5)
Missing data 35 (12.3) 0 (0)
Gender, N (%)    
Male 100 (35.3) 28  (35.0)
Female 169 (59.7) 52 (65.0)
Missing data 14 (5.0) 0-(0)
Ethnicity, N (%)    
Non-Hispanic 280 (98.9) 80 (100.0)
Hispanic 3 (1.1) 0 (0)
Race/ethnicity, N (%)    
White/Caucasian 273 (96.5) 78 (97.5)
Other 10 (3.5) 2 (2.5)
Annual income, N (%)    
<20,000 55 (19.4) 18 (22.5)
20,000-39,000 44 (15.5) 13 (16.2)
40,000-69,000 63 (22.3) 17 (21.3)
>=70,000 53 (18.7) 18 (22.5)
Missing data 68 (24.0) 14 (17.5)
Educational level    
< High school 24 (8.5) 4 (5.0)
High school or GED 123 (43.5) 31 (38.7)
Some college 66 (23.3) 20 (25.0)
4-year degree 31 (11.0) 10 (12.5)
Graduate degree 37 (13.1) 15 (18.8)
Other/missing data 2 (0.7) 0 (0)

Sample Air Monitoring Map

The data used in the map below are interpolated from individual monitors (N=11) which “shape” what the interpolations look like. We have approximately 8 weeks with full data from all monitors. Additional maps are being developed that take into account weather patterns and construction on Main Street.

Metal recycling facilities may release metal aerosols as well as tiny particles such as particulate matter (PM)2.5. Residents in Hartford City, a rural IN town, are concerned about their air quality due to the presence of a metal recycling facility. The goal of this research is to address community concerns by determining whether PM2.5 concentrations are elevated, particularly with respect to the facility. Eleven continuous PM2.5 monitors were placed with community volunteers to obtain PM2.5 concentrations. These monitors record PM concentrations, temperature, and humidity every 2 minutes; 4-5 months of data were collected. Wind direction was obtained from local weather stations; proximity to major highways as well as the proximity of each air monitor to the metal recycling facility was obtained using mapping programs. For analysis, GIS mapping was used to map each monitor and the metal recycling facility.

Ordinary kriging was done to view the average distribution of PM2.5 concentrations across the region. The distribution of PM2.5 concentrations were analyzed and observed using statistical software. PM2.5 concentrations varied greatly throughout time: 24-hour averages ranged from <1 to just under 26 µg/m3. This variation is much greater when observing hourly PM2.5 concentrations. The EPA has a PM2.5 24-hour standard of 35 µg/m3 and it was observed that none of the daily averages surpass this standard. Next steps include incorporation of multiple confounders, including temperature, distance, and time research. Further analysis is ongoing.

Kriging Interpolation

Recent Research Presented by Purdue Students

The poster below, “Identifying Best Practices to Improve Community Reach of Public Health Notifications,” was created after Megan Peek, Hailey Brenneman, and Elizabeth Mann – all undergraduate students at Purdue Fort Wayne – reached out to similar communities in Indiana as well as free news stations for television and radio. They asked questions regarding basic health notifications and public alert practices within these communities. Then they asked the television and radio stations about possible ways they could notify community members. Based on these responses and various articles concerning the topic, they identified specific recommendations that seemed to work best for the strengths and limitations of Blackford County. This poster was presented by Megan Peek at Purdue West Lafayette’s Engagement and Service-Learning Summit on March 2nd, 2023.


The poster below, “Composing a Public Health Plan for Hartford City,” was created by Victoria Hoffman, Hannah Richendollar, and Kira Creech, all of whom are undergraduate students at Purdue University Fort Wayne. This poster discusses how they wrote the first draft of the public health plan that we will present in the upcoming meetings. It highlights some of the recommendations that were made and will be discussed at the May 6th meeting, including littering, sweeping the parks for discarded needles, and the local emergency notification system. These recommendations are based on comments from the online survey. While most of the comments come from Hartford City residents, the survey was also open to anyone who had lived in the county for at least five years. Some of the other recommendations listed will be discussed in the fall meeting, once all of the air, water, and soil results have been analyzed. This poster was presented by Victoria Hoffman at Purdue West Lafayette’s Engagement and Service-Learning Summit on March 2nd, 2023.


The following poster, “Working Together for Change: A Hybrid Learning and Community-Based Approach to Drafting a Hartford City Public Health Plan,” describes how undergraduate students at Purdue Fort Wayne in a senior seminar class taught by Dr. Steiner worked together through the challenges of hybrid-learning to draft this public health plan. It discusses how the students split into two groups to divide and conquer the task of drafting this document. Each group had a face-to-face student leading 3 online-students who did their part remotely. The group led by Megan Peek worked towards researching and identifying best practices for public health notifications in Blackford County. While Peek’s group was researching this, the group led by Victoria Hoffman researched other approaches to public health plans and then wrote the first draft of this plan. This poster was presented at the 26th Annual Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium on March 24th, 2023.


By Megan Peek and Victoria Hoffman

Purdue West Lafayette Students Present Posters at Professional Meetings

Hannah Bard, under the supervision of Dr. Ellen Wells, presented “Comparing Demographics Between Blackford County Residents and Research Study Participants.” The abstract of this poster is as follows:
Our team conducted a study about metal contamination and health among adults in Hartford City, Indiana. The objective of this analysis is to compare demographics between Blackford County residents and study participants to determine if our study population reflects the actual population of Hartford City and Blackford County, Indiana. This cross-sectional study recruited participants using posters, announcements through community partners, and door- to-door canvassing. Data were collected from May through December 2002 using an online survey which could be filled out by the participant alone or with assistance from study staff. There were 245 participants that provided full data on their gender, age and race. Study data were compared with data from the U.S. Census Bureau via the STATS Indiana website. Data were managed and analyzed with Microsoft Excel. Analysis included descriptive statistical analysis, and comparisons used Student’s t-tests and Chi- square tests. Our study participants were 62.7% were female and 37.3% were male. Blackford County has a smaller proportion of women, with 50.6% female. In 2021, Hartford City’s population was 6,067 people and Blackford county’s population was 12,091 people. Thus, our study population was approximately 4.02% of the Hartford City population, and 2.02% of the Blackford County population. The Hartford City study median age (59 years) was higher than the overall county’s median age (43.6 years). Initial results suggest our study population has more females and is older than the entire population. Analyses are ongoing. The results will help us understand how representative our study population reflects Blackford County.

Rebecca Eyrick and Sharon Kulali, under the supervision of Dr. Ellen Wells, presented “Self-Reported Health Concerns among Adults in Hartford City, Indiana.” Eyrick and Kulali are students in the School of Health Sciences in the Department of Public Health at Purdue West Lafayette. This is the abstract of the poster:

Metal recycling plants may release environmental contaminants (air pollutants and heavy metals) into nearby communities. The citizens of Hartford City raised concerns about a local metal recycling plant and a variety of health concerns. As a first step to address these concerns, the goal for this analysis was to evaluate self-reported health indicators in adults from Hartford City. We completed a cross-sectional study of Hartford City adults (≥18 years old) in 2022. Participants completed a questionnaire regarding their demographic characteristics and health status and concerns. Data was available for 283 participants. Stata 17.0 was used to perform statistical analyses. The majority of participants were female (61.8%), White (96.1%), not Hispanic or Latino (98.6%), married (52.1%), and had an Associate’s degree (44.0%).  Their mean age was 56 years (SEM: 1.1) Most participants indicated that their mental (91.2%) and physical health (80.6%) were “about the same” or “better” in the past 12 months. 22.8% of participants indicated that had had at least one cancer in their lifetime, 47.3% had been diagnosed with hypertension, 42.8% had allergies, and 42.0% had high cholesterol. The highest concerns for citizens of Hartford City were cancer (29.3%), drug use (27.9%), and water quality (20.1%).  Other highlighted concerns were air quality, soil quality, poverty, and obesity. Additional analyses to determine correlations of demographic characteristics with health outcomes are ongoing. These results contribute to our understanding of the health concerns among Hartford City adults.

by Victoria Hoffman and Megan Peek

Preliminary Findings

PhD student Edem Fabrice has put together some preliminary findings of soil samples. A relationship between metals is found wherever there is an asterisk (meaning that where one is high or low, the other is also high or low). There are still many other samples that need to be tested before much more can be said. Save the date to come to the community meeting next spring to learn more! Thank you!

Preliminary Findings

The Public Health Study Has Begun!

The public health study is up and running! Last February, several of you came to City Hall to provide input to our survey. We listened and incorporated your feedback into the study. Last weekend, students from Purdue Fort Wayne walked door-to-door in snow, sleet and rain to help launch our online health survey. Thank you, students, for helping us get started. We appreciate your care for our community! Over the next several weeks, residents and students will be going door-to-door asking you to take part in the study. Please welcome them!

by Eric Evans

Students with Dr. Steiner from Purdue University Fort Wayne
Students with Dr. Steiner from Purdue University Fort Wayne