Elected officials are working with the University of Chicago Medicine to conduct a study on potential environmental causes of cancer throughout the city, including the 19th Ward.

Local residents should do their part to ensure the study is as thorough as possible.

The Chicago Multiethnic Prevention and Surveillance Study (COMPASS) is designed by researchers to understand how lifestyle, healthcare delivery, environment and genetics affect health. COMPASS aims to determine why certain population groups in Chicago have higher rates of occurrence of cancer and chronic diseases than others do.

Participants must be 35 and permanent residents of the city. They will be asked to complete a specially designed interview, which includes questions about lifestyle, environmental exposure and medical history, and to provide a blood sample and urine sample. Radon and drinking water tests in various homes may also be conducted.

A community meeting on the study was held on Feb. 18 at Morgan Park Academy, with State Sen. Bill Cunningham, 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, state Rep. Fran Hurley and state Rep. Kelly Burke joining University of Chicago officials to explain more about the study, which was first introduced locally a year ago.

Attendance was at about 100 people, which disappointed both officials and attendees.

Officials also said enrollment among residents in the neighborhood was low. They hope to have 100,000 people from the city take part. Mobile units will be used in March to accept sign-ups.

The community frequently steps up to fight cancer, whether it’s through fundraisers or emotional support such as hanging ribbons near the home of someone who has been diagnosed.

COMPASS offers another way to fight back by taking a deeper look at what might be causing so many people to be diagnosed. Other factors could play a role besides the environment, but it’s worth researching.

O’Shea was set to join city officials at a public meeting at Morgan Park High School on March 6, after press time, to discuss lead levels in the water supply. Attendees at the COMPASS meeting voiced concerns about lead, and they likely did so at the meeting on March 6.

Hopefully, that meeting draws more people than the COMPASS meeting did.

And hopefully, future COMPASS meetings will attract a larger crowd.

For more on the study or to register, email 19thwardhealthstudy@gmail.com.