The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) seeks to understand and break the link between chemical exposure and disease to protect health, the environment, and communities affected by hazardous waste. Today, about 78 million people live within three miles of a Superfund site - these communities tend to have more Indigenous and people of color, have lower incomes, and face other environmental stressors, such as air poor air quality. Protecting the public from toxic substances requires a focus on the communities that are disproportionately burdened by exposure to contaminants in water, soil, and air.
Across the U.S., Tribal lands are impacted by hazardous waste sites and abandoned mines that contaminate food sources and drinking water. Tribal communities experience poorer health than other Americans, including having a lower life expectancy and higher rates of many chronic diseases.
As we gear up to celebrate Native American Heritage Month this November, SRP would like to call attention to the work focused on promoting better health and health equity among Tribal communities. SRP grant recipients conduct community-engaged research projects that address environmental health concerns, seek to assess exposures, and identify solutions to protect health. SRP-funded research also prioritizes communicating science in culturally appropriate ways and building capacity to help strengthen Tribal services to nurture health and well-being.
This Science Digest edition provides an update on SRP's expansive work to address environmental health concerns in Native American communities.
The upcoming SRP Annual Meeting, to be held December 4-6 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will also foster research translation, community engagement, data management and analysis, and training activities among SRP grant recipients and meeting participants and will emphasize the importance of promoting health in Tribal communities. We hope to see you there!
Michelle Heacock, Ph.D.
Superfund Research Program