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Oregon State University

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Anna Harding
Grant Number: P42ES016465
Funding Period: 2009-2025
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Project Summary (2009-2013)

Community Outreach Core: Tribal-University Collaboration to Address Tribal Exposures to PAHs and Improve Community Health.

The goal of the Community Outreach Core is to apply the knowledge gained from the Oregon State University’s SBRP projects to better understand health risks associated with PAH exposure on the Umatilla Indian Reservation and to assist in human capacity building with Tribal partners. This is accomplished through a collaborative project that includes the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) Tribal agencies, Tribal and University investigators, and Tribal community members. The CTUIR and many other U.S. Tribes are engaged in traditional and cultural practices that may result in increased risk of disease due to cumulative PAH exposures from traditionally-smoked foods, air exposure from traditional smoking of foods, and ambient air pollution. Tribal members cannot give up their culture and religion or move from their homelands in order to avoid contaminants. Thus, it is critically important for them to develop the capacity to better understand the nature of these exposures, and to be engaged in the development and communication of culturally appropriate and practical risk reduction strategies. The objectives of the Outreach Core are to:

  1. establish and convene an interdisciplinary advisory group representing Tribal and government agencies, and other members who will add additional expertise in Tribal cultural lifestyles and culturally-appropriate risk reduction measures;
  2. engage in human capacity building with the Umatilla Tribal partners and identify opportunities to better assess PAH exposure pathways specific and relevant to their traditional and cultural practices;
  3. develop culturally appropriate risk reduction approaches and outreach strategies that offer the best opportunity for improved health.

This Outreach Core builds on strengths and resources within the Tribal community, and facilitates a collaborative, equitable partnership in all phases of the project. Direct capacity-building activities are carried out with the CTUIR Department of Science and Engineering, and are informed by an interdisciplinary advisory group representing tribal entities. The approach that evolves from this Core will serve as a model to help other Tribal communities evaluate their PAH exposures and design risk reduction strategies that are protective of public health.

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