The IUPUI Center for Urban Health aims to build capacity through community-based science. This work could not happen without the engagement of partners such as health departments, libraries, schools, museums, and corporations. Here is a sampling of our current projects—each offers various ways for people to get involved. 

Soil Testing for Lead

Anyone who gardens in urban settings should test their soil for lead. Contamination can occur from degrading lead-based paint on buildings constructed before 1978 or auto emissions along busy streets. While lead is no longer used in paint or automobile gasoline, lead can persist in the environment for decades or longer. Indiana University will test your samples at no charge.

360 Dust Analysis

The urbanization of global populations has resulted in people spending more time indoors. Some estimates suggest that urbanites spend nearly 90% of their time indoors. Consequently, health exposure risks to environmental contaminants are dominated by indoor air particulates, that is, dust.

Anthropocene Household

Anthropocene Household researchers engage Indianapolis-area residents and community organizations to collect and test water samples for pollutants, including heavy metals, arsenic, and atrazine. Their findings inform a publicly available geographic information systems dataset on water quality in Indianapolis.


Bookworms is a program where youth collect soil and worm samples from their back yard, school, or neighborhood to give to IUPUI scientists to test for lead, arsenic, and other soil pollutants. Samples are exchanged for a coupon for a free book through a partnership with Barnes & Noble.

Community Science

Be a community scientist. For this project, all you have to do is drop by any of the Marion County (Indiana) Indianapolis Public Library locations to pick up a free bag kit. Learn more about this project.

ECI Thriving Schools Lead Screening Program

The Indiana Thriving Schools Challenge is a green schools grants program for Indiana K-12 schools, with precedence given to schools in Marion County and underserved rural communities. Participating schools are required to provide soil and dust samples to IUPUI researchers in exchange for a report that indicates if lead is present in or around the school.

IU Lead Safe Community Initiative

Studies have consistently and conclusively shown that no amount of lead exposure is safe for small children. This project aims to build on recent findings that suggest chronic low-level lead exposure and exposure risks persist for children up to 16 years of age who live in one historically lead-impacted and predominantly Hispanic community along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Lead Screening Kit Project

Funded by Housing and Urban Development (HUD), IUPUI and the University of Notre Dame have partnered to distribute free Lead Screening Kits so residents of Marion, Vermillion, Vigo, and St. Joseph Counties can collect and submit samples of dust, water, paint, and soil. Residents will receive a report detailing any lead findings while researchers gain a better understanding of how lead moves through urban environments.

Map My Environment

This project serves as a living data visualization portal for environmental soil, dust, or water pollution in cities around the world. In cities where community-member scientists and locally-invested researchers actively collaborate, you will find pollution data to inform your choices and empower your actions. Check out the ways you can become involved wherever you live.

Check Back

Our work is continually evolving. Check back to discover new projects and find out how you can be involved.