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Geosciences 2015, 5(1), 67-94; doi:10.3390/geosciences5010067

Potential Health Risks from Uranium in Home Well Water: An Investigation by the Apsaalooke (Crow) Tribal Research Group

1
Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, P.O. Box 173980, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
2
Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, P.O. Box 173480, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
3
Little Big Horn College, P.O. Box 370, Crow Agency, MT 59022, USA
4
Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital, P.O. Box 592, Crow Agency, MT 59022, USA
5
Crow Tribal Member(s)
6
Montana Infrastructure Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Program, Montana State University Bozeman, 1246 Harvard Avenue, Billings, MT 59102, USA
7
Department of Civil Engineering, Montana State University, P.O. Box 173980, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jose A. Centeno, Robert B. Finkelman and Olle Selinus
Received: 28 December 2014 / Revised: 9 March 2015 / Accepted: 10 March 2015 / Published: 20 March 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medical Geology: Impacts of the Natural Environment on Public Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3955 KB, uploaded 20 March 2015]   |  

Abstract

Exposure to uranium can damage kidneys, increase long term risks of various cancers, and cause developmental and reproductive effects. Historically, home well water in Montana has not been tested for uranium. Data for the Crow Reservation from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) database showed that water from 34 of 189 wells tested had uranium over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 30 μg/L for drinking water. Therefore the Crow Water Quality Project included uranium in its tests of home well water. Volunteers had their well water tested and completed a survey about their well water use. More than 2/3 of the 97 wells sampled had detectable uranium; 6.3% exceeded the MCL of 30 μg/L. Wells downgradient from the uranium-bearing formations in the mountains were at highest risk. About half of all Crow families rely on home wells; 80% of these families consume their well water. An explanation of test results; associated health risks and water treatment options were provided to participating homeowners. The project is a community-based participatory research initiative of Little Big Horn College; the Crow Tribe; the Apsaalooke Water and Wastewater Authority; the local Indian Health Service Hospital and other local stakeholders; with support from academic partners at Montana State University (MSU) Bozeman. View Full-Text
Keywords: uranium; drinking water; well water; risk assessment; risk communication; Native American; health disparity; community based participatory research; environmental justice; Crow Reservation; Crow Tribe uranium; drinking water; well water; risk assessment; risk communication; Native American; health disparity; community based participatory research; environmental justice; Crow Reservation; Crow Tribe
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Eggers, M.J.; Moore-Nall, A.L.; Doyle, J.T.; Lefthand, M.J.; Young, S.L.; Bends, A.L.; Committee, C.E.H.S.; Camper, A.K. Potential Health Risks from Uranium in Home Well Water: An Investigation by the Apsaalooke (Crow) Tribal Research Group. Geosciences 2015, 5, 67-94.

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