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EPA Awards $700,000 to UMass Amherst for Environmental Health Research for Tribal Communities

Release Date: 07/23/2014
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

BOSTON – EPA is awarding $700,000 for a research project being conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst on indoor air quality affecting tribal people. The research grant is one of six awarded today for projects to identify and reduce tribal health risks associated with climate change, indoor wood smoke exposure, environmental asthma and other unique tribal concerns.

The UMass Amherst project will measure indoor air quality in tents used for subsistence hunting activities, by characterizing wood-smoke aerosol components, determining the resulting biological effects associated with exposure to biomass aerosol, and will recommend system improvements based on intervention strategies in a population of Native North American hunters living in subarctic North America.

“EPA is pleased to help fund research to better understand the environmental health risks faced by Tribal communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. “This tribal-focused research will help identify impacts of pollution on native people and communities, and will help inform people to reduce health risks.”

The project, led by UMass Amherst researcher Dr. Richard Peltier, aims to provide information on the effectiveness of various emissions mitigation attempts across different populations, improve understanding of multipollutant emissions from temporary biomass heating sources indoors (temporal patterns, speciation of particles, and trace gas levels), utilize and assess an intervention approach that removes indoor wood burning and replacing with clean-burning propane for heating and cooking, identify and train the community in sustainable alternatives to heating that greatly reduces the need to burn wood indoors, identify biomarker status changes experienced by these populations, and enhance scholarly interchange between research groups and tribal subarctic communities.

“Rick Peltier is a unique researcher. He is an excellent environmental chemist who uses advanced and innovative analytical instrumentation, and applies his research to real-world public health settings. As a result his research will have direct positive impact on the health and well-being of the communities with whom he works. This type of research is at the core of the mission and vision of UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences," said Marjorie Aelion, dean of the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences.

The other five grant recipients are Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, Alaska; Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, La Conner, Wash.; Yurok Tribe, Klamath, Calif.; Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency, Mont.; and University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Okla.

EPA funds research focused on tribal communities through the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program. Because many tribes rely on natural resources, it is essential for tribal-focused research to identify possible environmental health risks and the most efficient methods of avoiding or addressing these risks. Over the last decade, EPA grants have helped tribes make significant progress in addressing health risks.

More information:

- EPA Tribal research grants announced today

- EPA Tribal research grant program

- EPA’s American Indian Environmental Office Tribal portal

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