2004 Progress Report: Bioaccumulative Toxics in Native American ShellfishEPA Grant Number: R829467
Title: Bioaccumulative Toxics in Native American Shellfish
Investigators: Basabe, Felix Anthony , Donatuto, Jamie
Current Investigators: Basabe, Felix Anthony
Institution: Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: March 15, 2002 through March 14, 2006 (Extended to August 28, 2006)
Project Period Covered by this Report: March 15, 2003 through March 14, 2004
Project Amount: $1,170,389
RFA: Environmental Justice: Partnerships for Communication (2000) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Tribal Environmental Health Research , Environmental Justice , Health
The objectives of this research project are to: (1) determine whether Swinomish people are exposed to low-level, chronic, bioaccumulative toxics when participating in subsistence gathering and consumption of shellfish; (2) communicate any identified health risks in a culturally appropriate manner; (3) develop mitigation options; (4) identify existing major health issues on the Reservation that might be related to eating contaminated shellfish; and (5) develop hypotheses relating Swinomish health problems to toxics found.
The project is progressing as planned. Data validation for the Year 2 sampling data was completed in December 2004, and the risk assessments are underway. Initial results for exposure through bivalve ingestion have been calculated. The Swinomish Seafood Diet interviews are in progress and will provide a more accurate consumption rate. The Swinomish Environmental Education Program has initiated several projects in the local community for both adults and children, including interactive presentations, videos, written reports in the monthly Tribal newsletter, and a workshop for primary care providers. A midterm project assessment and evaluation has been released.
The principle project goals for the fourth and final year of the project are to: (1) complete the risk assessments for the toxics data from the Dungeness crab (Cancer magister), littleneck clam (Protocatha staminea), butter clam (Saxidomis giganteus), and sediment samples; (2) continue outreach and education efforts in the community about bioaccumulative toxics, directed at both youth and adults; (3) disseminate the risk assessment findings to the community via community gatherings and events, the monthly Tribal newsletter, the Swinomish cable channel, videos, and the general council meeting; and (4) to discuss mitigation options.
These principle goals encompass several specific aims. The risk assessment component will include examination of the validity of the calculated health risks by taking into account often overlooked American Indian issues, such as higher consumption rates, longer exposure durations, and alternate exposure pathways. The Swinomish Seafood Diet interviews will conclude in summer 2005, and the data will be analyzed and included in this component. The environmental education and outreach activities will continue as described above and also will incorporate video shorts produced with the Native Lens workshop graduates. These videos about the current status of the Tribe’s natural resources and how chemical contamination affects the local community will be aired at a celebration premiere for Swinomish and non-Swinomish community members, at which the Swinomish environmental educator will present information concerning bioaccumulative toxics and the risk assessment findings.
Outreach and education activities will be coupled with results dissemination when the risk assessments are complete. After the data are presented to the community, another workshop with the Swinomish Health Clinic will be organized to aid the health care practitioners in addressing questions that patients may ask. Two tribal advisory board meetings will occur: one in June 2005 (i.e., a workshop concerning arsenic in Puget Sound, as requested by the board members), and a final meeting before the conclusion of the project. The final comprehensive assessment and evaluation of the project will be performed, providing an independent view of the culmination of the project’s work.