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A Case Study Describing a Community-Engaged Approach for Evaluating Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure in a Native American Community

1
School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, La Conner, WA 98257, USA
3
Research Translation Core, Superfund Research Program, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR 97331, USA
4
Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030327
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 19 January 2019 / Accepted: 19 January 2019 / Published: 24 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
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Abstract

In 2015, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (SITC) was impacted by an air toxic release from one of two nearby oil refineries. This experience motivated SITC members to learn more about their exposure to air toxics. On the invitation of SITC, this community-based study measured personal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and conducted interviews with the volunteers to evaluate perceptions of the data and experience of participating. Non-smoking SITC members were recruited in March 2016 (N = 10) and January 2017 (N = 22) with seven volunteers participating both times. Volunteers wore a wristband passive sampler for 7 days and completed daily activity diaries. Wristbands were analyzed for 62 PAHs using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Wilcoxon exact tests determined if the sum total PAHs (ΣPAH) differed by activity, proximity to the refineries, and time. Aggregated results were shared during community meetings, and volunteers received individual reports. Volunteers (N = 9) participated in individual interviews. All volunteers were exposed to different amounts and types of PAHs. Burning candles or using a wood stove and/or propane heating were associated with higher ΣPAH exposures. While ΣPAH was similar in both sampling periods, the composition of PAHs differed. More priority listed PAHs were detected in January (N = 17) versus March (N = 10). Among volunteers who participated in both sampling events, exposure to four PAHs significantly differed between seasons. Overall, volunteers reported that the study made them more aware of air pollution sources in their community. They also commented that the chemical nomenclature was difficult to understand, but appreciated the individual reports that allowed them to visually compare their data to the distribution of data collected in their community. For volunteers with lower exposures, these comparisons gave them relief. However, volunteers with higher exposures reported concern and several changed their behaviors to reduce their exposure to known PAH sources. This study provided an opportunity for SITC members to learn about their personal exposure to a class of air toxics within the context of their community. While the limitations of the study hindered the ability to identify sources of air toxics in the community, this activity appeared to raise awareness about ambient and indoor air pollution among the volunteers. View Full-Text
Keywords: community based participatory research; passive sampling; PAHs; environmental pollutants; air pollution; air toxics; air quality; silicone; Tribal-University partnership; environmental health education community based participatory research; passive sampling; PAHs; environmental pollutants; air pollution; air toxics; air quality; silicone; Tribal-University partnership; environmental health education
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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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Rohlman, D.; Donatuto, J.; Heidt, M.; Barton, M.; Campbell, L.; Anderson, K.A.; Kile, M.L. A Case Study Describing a Community-Engaged Approach for Evaluating Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure in a Native American Community. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 327.

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