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Your Environment. Your Health.

Native American Health and the Legacy of Mining

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

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minefield in a desert

Native American Health and the Legacy of Mining

June 24, 2013

Experts: Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D., Teddy Nez

According to some estimates, up to 500,000 abandoned mines—areas where coal, ores, metals, and uranium were once extracted from the Earth—are scattered across the United States.1 Materials left behind at these sites can be picked up in the wind, leach into soil, or drain into water sources, presenting a health threat to those living nearby. In this podcast, we learn how some Native American groups are teaming up with researchers to address the health legacy of abandoned mines on Tribal lands.


Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D.

Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D. directs the Community Environmental Health program at the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy. In 2004, Dr. Lewis began serving as Principal Investigator for the NIEHS-funded Diné Network for Environmental Health (DiNEH) Project to build community research capacity and study community health among those affected by abandoned uranium mines on Navajo lands. More recently, she began serving as Principal Investigator on the Navajo Birth Cohort Study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg.

Teddy Nez

Teddy Nez is a Community and Environmental Health Specialist at the Southwest Research and Information Center and a member of the Grassroots Community of the Navajo Nation. His home is located close to two abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo reservation near Gallup, N.M.

For More Information

Abandoned Mine Site Inventory
Explore the national inventory of abandoned mine sites maintained by the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Abandoned Mine Lands Portal
Learn about the extent and impacts of abandoned mine sites in the United States and find tips on staying safe when on or near these sites.

Addressing Health Impacts of Uranium Mining on the Navajo Nation
A brief overview of the activities and outcomes of the NIEHS-funded Diné Network for Environmental Health (DiNEH) Project.

DiNEH Project
Find information about this community-based research to assess the role of environmental exposures on health in the Eastern Navajo Agency.

Navajo Birth Cohort Study
Explore project information and participant eligibility guidelines for this collaborative effort to study whether uranium exposures affect birth outcomes and child development on the Navajo Nation.

Southwest Research and Information Center
Find information about the environmental, health, and community outreach activities of this non-profit, multi-cultural organization.

Additional references

1Abandoned Mine Lands Portal, 2013. Extent of Problem.

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