Paper No. 24-1
Presentation Time: 1:05 PM
LOWER HEALTH STATUS ON INDIAN RESERVATIONS, AN EPIDEMIC IN NORTH AMERICA, MAY BE RELATED TO GEOLOGIC AND OR GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Native American communities consistently experience lower health status when compared with other Americans. Indian reservations located with natural resources on or near their lands may be at a greater risk for environmentally induced ailments. 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. Using available data bases like the USGS NURE data base may help to establish baselines for future studies involving levels of toxins including U, Se, Hg and Pb related to development of natural resources. Using baseline values to compare future data may yield results which can be implemented to improve health conditions of the people involved. It is critical now to demonstrate the correlation 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 geologic and geographic location. The Crow reservation, located at the northern end of the Powder River basin, is underlain by large coal deposits. Data from a Crow Water quality community-based participatory research project shows elevated U in home wells on the reservation. The project is a community-based participatory research initiative of Little Big Horn College (the Tribal College for the Reservation), the Crow Tribe, the Apsaalooke [Crow] Water and Wastewater Authority, the local Indian Health Service Hospital and other local stakeholders, with support from academic partners at MSU Bozeman and the University of New England. Continued risk communication and risk mitigation with residents of the Crow Reservation are warranted.