Health and Wellbeing Impact of Contamination of Traditional Food and Water on Navajo

EPA Grant Number: R836151C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R836151
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research
Center Director: Burgess, Jefferey L.
Title: Health and Wellbeing Impact of Contamination of Traditional Food and Water on Navajo
Investigators: Ingram, Janet , Hsu, Chiu-Hsieh , Lerma, Michael
Institution: University of Arizona , Northern Arizona University
EPA Project Officer: Breville, Maggie
Project Period: July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020
RFA: NIH/EPA Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health

Objective:

The goal of the proposed project, Health and Wellbeing Impact of Contamination of Traditional Food and Water on the Navajo, is to determine health risks and community impacts (e.g., consumption issues, threats to cultural values, spiritual concerns, and public health impacts) from exposure to environmental uranium and arsenic contamination of traditional food and water for Navajo communities.

Specific Aim 1: Characterize the extent of metal contamination in culturally significant food and water sources for two Navajo communities.

Specific Aim 2: Model dietary metal exposure and utilize the Indigenous Health Indicator to assess health impact.

Specific Aim 3: Develop a Community-Participatory Multi-Level Policy Intervention Model

Approach:

The approach for this project is to utilize a community-engaged research model to explore exposure pathways and to identify culturally applicable and community-constructed models for mitigation of the impact of the identified chemical contaminants on Navajo communities. An outcome of this project is the development of a model that will support culturally relevant and community-created policy with respect to contaminated traditional foods and water that will be scalable to other Native American communities, and potentially beyond those communities to other environmentally impacted cultural communities. 

Uranium associated with abandoned uranium mines and arsenic in traditional food such as sheep as well as water are a major concern to the Navajo. Aim 1 will determine the extent of contamination in the food and water sources of the two Navajo communities. Following initial characterization of metal contamination, field work with subsequent chemical analysis is proposed. Aim 2 will focus on collecting a dietary history of individuals in the Navajo communities to model uranium and arsenic exposure through consumption of traditional foods and water. Community level sociocultural public health pathways will be identified and evaluated. The physiological exposure pathways and socio-cultural significance will be integrated in a culturally relevant and effective impact assessment model called the Indigenous Health Indicator (IHI) developed by Swinomish tribal environmental health workers. In Aim 3, results from Aims 1 and 2 will be utilized to develop a culturally-relevant policy focused on contamination of traditional Native American foods. Investigators propose to deploy a culturally directed, empirically tested model that will allow Native American communities to establish (and assess) culturally applicable environmental health interventions. It will be important in the policy work to consult with the Traditional Knowledge Holders from the tribes to best shape policies around traditional food consumption. 

Investigators believe that this approach will result in policy that other Native American tribes can adapt to address contamination of traditional foods in their communities.


Main Center Abstract and Reports:

R836151    Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R836151C001 Health and Wellbeing Impact of Contamination of Traditional Food and Water on Navajo
R836151C002 Cumulative Environmental Effects: Expanding research with Hopi Tribe