pp 1–13 | Cite as

Environmental Health Promotion of a Contaminated Site in Mexico

  • Urinda Alamo-Hernández
  • Ana Cecilia Espinosa-García
  • Hilda Rangel-Flores
  • Paulina Farías
  • David Hernández-Bonilla
  • Marlene Cortez-Lugo
  • Fernando Díaz-Barriga
  • Nelly Flores
  • Sandra Rodríguez-Dozal
  • Horacio Riojas–RodríguezEmail author
Original Contribution


Entangled in complex ecological, sociocultural, and economic systems, current environmental health problems require integrated participatory approaches. Alpuyeca, a semi-urban, highly marginalized community in South-Central Mexico burdened by lead and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination, dengue fever, and intestinal diseases, illustrates this. Its residents are distinctive, however, for their concerted actions in the face of environmental problems and the presence of defenders of a prehispanic worldview based on the protection of nature. This article addresses the health impacts of an integrated environmental health promotion strategy implemented through a participatory action research intervention based on qualitative and quantitative methods. Different actors, sectors, dimensions, and knowledge types were harmonized in a collaborative space created specifically for our interdisciplinary research team, community residents and local authorities. Reflections, plans and actions were developed collectively in this space with the view of finding solutions anchored in the local culture. Results included sharp reductions in blood-lead concentrations among children, in entomological indices, and in PCB contamination, as well as capacity strengthening. Medium-level community participation was achieved. This work contributes evidence that participatory environmental health research can be effective in analyzing and reducing problems in communities with multiple environmental health concerns. It complements ecohealth and environmental health literacy approaches.


Environmental health promotion Participatory action research Lead in Mexico Dengue Water quality Integrated strategy 



This study was funded by the Fondo Mixto de Fomento a la Investigación Científica y Tecnológica CONACYT-MORELOS (MOR-2009-C01-116080). This study was made possible thanks to Norma Garduño-Salazar, Blanca Lilia Gaspar-del-Angel, Leonardo Mancilla-Sánchez, members of the CASITA group, Alpuyeca Community and to the Program of doctorate in community health of the University Laval, Québec.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individuals who participated in the study.


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Copyright information

© EcoHealth Alliance 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Urinda Alamo-Hernández
    • 1
  • Ana Cecilia Espinosa-García
    • 2
  • Hilda Rangel-Flores
    • 3
  • Paulina Farías
    • 1
  • David Hernández-Bonilla
    • 1
  • Marlene Cortez-Lugo
    • 1
  • Fernando Díaz-Barriga
    • 4
  • Nelly Flores
    • 5
  • Sandra Rodríguez-Dozal
    • 1
  • Horacio Riojas–Rodríguez
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health, Center of Investigation in Population Health (CISP)National Institute of Public Health (INSP)Cuernavaca MorMexico
  2. 2.Institute of Ecology, National Laboratory of Sciences of the SustainabilityNational Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Tercer Circuito Exterior Ciudad UniversitariaCoyoacán, MéxicoMexico
  3. 3.Center of Investigation on Infectious Diseases (CISEI)National Institute of Public Health (INSP)Cuernavaca MorMexico
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Toxicology - Medical SchoolAutonomous University of San Luis Potosí (UASLP)San Luis PotosíMexico
  5. 5.Public Health SchoolNational Insitute of Public Health (INSP)Cuernavaca MorMexico

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