Cultural drivers of environmental health disparities among Native American Tribe members: A case study of fish consumption and pollutant exposures
Fish consumption is an important component of many Native American cultures, and represents deeply held beliefs which have roots in spiritual practices, subsistence lifestyles and community. Therefore, for some Native American tribes, typical fish consumption may exceed levels typically reported for the general U.S. population. In many regions of the U.S., motivated by contaminant residues in locally-caught species, fish consumption advisories have been established to protect local populations from health risk, especially vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women. For regions where contaminant levels are elevated, elevated fish consumption by tribal members may lead to elevated exposures to mercury. These exposures represent potentially disproportionate risks for many Native American populations. These issues represent the potential inadequacy of fish advisories to reflect important cultural differences in environmental justice communities. This may warrant further mitigation to reduce pollutant levels in surface waters that support commonly consumed or culturally important species. The component of this project consisted of developing a database of mercury sites of concern to tribes located in the Northwest, Great Lakes and Northeast reservations, and map(s) that delineates a number of site characteristics through use of spatial relationships. The map(s) depict exposure and risk assessment models that address tribal lifestyle activities, and evaluate physical exposure risks to individual site contaminants.