2013 Conference of the International Medical Geology Association (25–29 August 2013)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 4:10 PM


MOORE-NALL, Anita L., Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Department of Earth Sciences, P.O. Box 173480, Bozeman, MT 59717-3480 and LAGESON, David R., Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Department of Earth Sciences, P.O. Box 173480, Bozeman, MT 59717, amoorenall@yahoo.com

Native American communities consistently experience lower health status when compared with other Americans. Indian reservations located with natural resources being developed or potentially being developed on or near their lands may be at a greater risk for environmentally induced ailments. Some of the highest incidences of mortality among Native Americans in the United States are diabetes and heart disease. These rates are much higher than for other Americans. The four leading causes of death in the United States, heart disease, cancer, diseases of the respiratory system and stroke, all have coal-related pollutants as important risk factors. An estimated 10% of the power plants in the United States are proximal to Native American lands. Communities near power plants have experienced medical conditions such as increased incidences of asthma and cancer which appear to be associated with the proximity to the power plants. As countries like China and India seek to import more coal the possibility of more development on or near Native American lands will likely increase as may health problems associated with its development. Medical geology and GIS may serve as tools to evaluate some of the medical conditions which prevail in these communities. The sample size of many of these communities may seem significantly small for scientific studies, but increased homogeneity in the small sample sizes due to cultural and traditional values may provide good results, which can be implemented to improve health conditions of the people involved. It is critical now to demonstrate the correspondence between environmental burdens and adverse health impacts. To show the disproportionate effects of pollution and development related illnesses rather than just the disproportionate distribution of pollution sources which are often due to the geology and geography of the areas which were designated for Native Americans to live often without their input.