Subsistence Hunting and Associated Activities of Native North Americans in Remote Communities: Measurement of Indoor Air Quality in Tents as Related to Wood-Smoke Exposures, and the Identification of Potential Health RisksEPA Grant Number: R835605
Title: Subsistence Hunting and Associated Activities of Native North Americans in Remote Communities: Measurement of Indoor Air Quality in Tents as Related to Wood-Smoke Exposures, and the Identification of Potential Health Risks
Investigators: Peltier, Richard E , Liberda, Eric N , Tsuji, Leonard J
Institution: University of Massachusetts - Amherst , Ryerson University , University of Toronto
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: May 1, 2014 through April 30, 2017 (Extended to April 30, 2018)
Project Amount: $700,000
RFA: Science for Sustainable and Healthy Tribes (2013) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Tribal Environmental Health Research , Health
Exposure to wood smoke, a dynamic mixture of gases and particles, is a chronic problem in areas that use biomass burning as a major fuel source. Nowhere is this problem greater than in tribal populations who participate in seasonal subsistence hunting for game where wood burning is an integral part of this culturally relevant activity. Not only do subsistence hunters rely on wood as a fuel for warmth and to cook, but they also smoke their meats with that biomass material. This has important implications for members of these communities as a number of deleterious health effects result from exposure to wood smoke, including significant changes in lung function, markers of inflammation, and influence of the autonomic pathways of cardiovascular control.
The objectives of this research are as follows: i) to measure indoor air quality in tents used for subsistence hunting activities by characterizing wood-smoke, aerosol components; ii) to determine the resultant biological effects associated with exposure to wood-smoke aerosol components; and iii) to provide recommendations for system improvements based on intervention strategies in a population of Native North American hunters living in subarctic North America. We hypothesize that inhalation exposures to high levels of wood smoke emissions resulting from unique tribal practices lead to measureable and relevant biological changes in members of this community, and that simple to implement intervention techniques can substantially reduce exposure levels and ultimately their corresponding health impacts.
Expected results and outcomes from this investigation include: collection of an extensive data set that characterizes high intensity wood smoke exposures that includes quantitative information physical and chemical characteristics, field testing of simple technology that promises to greatly reduce these exposures, provide extensive training and mentoring to a group of Omushkego Cree Native North Americans, and mobilize critical knowledge to these communities to reduce exposures. The project is in direct partnership with the tribal community and thus will continue to build strong connections to support community-based participatory research.