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Community-Based Research as a Mechanism to Reduce Environmental Health Disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Research, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20460, USA
College of Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
Apsaalooke Water and Wastewater Authority, Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee/Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency, MT 59022, USA
Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
School of Health Professions, Shenandoah University, 1460 University Drive, Winchester, VA 22601, USA
Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University, N.C. Research Campus, 600 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC 28081, USA
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, 3900 Ambassador Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA
Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, 11430 Moorage Way, La Conner, WA 98257, USA
Environmental Health Analyst, Department of Social Services, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, 17337 Reservation Road, La Conner, WA 98257, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(4), 4076-4100;
Received: 7 February 2015 / Revised: 21 March 2015 / Accepted: 2 April 2015 / Published: 13 April 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eliminating Health Disparities to Achieve Health Equity)
PDF [987 KB, uploaded 15 April 2015]


Racial and ethnic minority communities, including American Indian and Alaska Natives, have been disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution and contamination. This includes siting and location of point sources of pollution, legacies of contamination of drinking and recreational water, and mining, military and agricultural impacts. As a result, both quantity and quality of culturally important subsistence resources are diminished, contributing to poor nutrition and obesity, and overall reductions in quality of life and life expectancy. Climate change is adding to these impacts on Native American communities, variably causing drought, increased flooding and forced relocation affecting tribal water resources, traditional foods, forests and forest resources, and tribal health. This article will highlight several extramural research projects supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Science to Achieve Results (STAR) tribal environmental research grants as a mechanism to address the environmental health inequities and disparities faced by tribal communities. The tribal research portfolio has focused on addressing tribal environmental health risks through community based participatory research. Specifically, the STAR research program was developed under the premise that tribal populations may be at an increased risk for environmentally-induced diseases as a result of unique subsistence and traditional practices of the tribes and Alaska Native villages, community activities, occupations and customs, and/or environmental releases that significantly and disproportionately impact tribal lands. Through a series of case studies, this article will demonstrate how grantees—tribal community leaders and members and academic collaborators—have been addressing these complex environmental concerns by developing capacity, expertise and tools through community-engaged research. View Full-Text
Keywords: American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN); tribal communities; Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN); tribal communities; Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)

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McOliver, C.A.; Camper, A.K.; Doyle, J.T.; Eggers, M.J.; Ford, T.E.; Lila, M.A.; Berner, J.; Campbell, L.; Donatuto, J. Community-Based Research as a Mechanism to Reduce Environmental Health Disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 4076-4100.

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