Region 9: Investigation of Health Concerns with Traditional Use of Native Plants at Abandoned Uranium Mine Sites on Tribal Lands
Uranium mining in the western U.S. has contaminated surrounding areas with naturally occurring radioactive materials and heavy metals. These pollutants may pose human health risks via ingestion, dermal exposure, or inhalation. Tribal communities that gather local vegetation for food, medical, and other traditional uses may be exposed to contamination through direct exposure from dust on the site or from plant material that is eaten or used in other ways.
This collaborative project, co-designed by EPA and Navajo tribal scientists, will analyze potential health concerns from traditional uses of plants at abandoned uranium mine sites on Navajo Nation tribal lands. The project will combine scientific techniques with tribal experience to create a unique process for answering the questions of plant safety by citizen scientists from the Navajo communities. EPA will provide technical assistance to community volunteers who will collect plant and soil samples that will be analyzed at an EPA laboratory. The project will provide data on potential uptake, fate, and seasonal behavior of metals and radionuclides – information that can support human health and ecological risk assessments.Partners: Navajo Nation