EPA to Spend $6 Million for ‘Sustainable and Healthy Tribes’

July 31, 2013 - 11:08 AM

Indian reservation

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The Environmental Protection Agency is spending $6 million to “develop sustainable solutions to environmental problems that affect tribes.”

According to the grant announcement, the objectives are to improve understanding of “the health impacts of climate change on tribal populations and the health impacts of indoor pollution exposures that derive from or are directly affecting traditional tribal life-ways and cultural practices.”

“Age and health status of American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) individuals may increase the risk of adverse effects of poor indoor air quality, including factors exacerbated by climate change impacts,” the grant said.

Children and the elderly are “particularly vulnerable,” according to the EPA grant.

“Growing children are particularly vulnerable; their physical characteristics, childhood activities and natural curiosity put them at greater risk from environmental hazards. Similarly, older people may be particularly vulnerable because the ability to eliminate chemicals from the body decreases with age,” the grant said.

Also, the American Indian/Alaskan Native population is at increased risk of death from smoking, obesity, heart attacks, and asthma, the EPA grant said.

“The prevalence of, and associated morbidity from, smoking, unhealthy weight, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory conditions, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is higher among AI/AN populations,” the grant said.

“Tribes are disproportionately impacted by a number of environmental and health challenges that work against the safe practice of their traditional life-ways and achieving their sustainability goals,” the grant said.

Some examples of these challenges are: “water division, lands not suitable for agriculture, dumping of food commodities on reservations and the creation of substandard housing that exposes occupants to increased issues with indoor air quality.”

The grant was posted on Feb. 25, and the closing date for applications was June 25, 2013.

The total anticipated program funding is $6 million. Each regular grant award goes up to $920,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of three years. Early career awards are limited to up to $700,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of three years.

There are approximately five regular awards and two early career awards, and the EPA anticipates making at least one award to a Minority Academic Institution.

CNSNews.com contacted the EPA for comment and was referred to the grant announcement.