(Community Engagement Core: Chief, Rainie, Maier) The University of Arizona (UA) Superfund Research Program (SRP) has successfully translated research findings focused on the health and environmental impacts of mining on vulnerable communities and engaged affected citizens to reduce and mitigate exposure through learning modules, outreach activities, workshops, capacity building, and developing community engaged participatory research. The UA SRP Community Engagement Core (CEC) will continue to engage Native American communities and Tribal Colleges and Universities in the Southwest that are located adjacent to mining sites by building and expanding upon previously nurtured partnerships including The Tohono O?odham Nation, Tohono O?odham Community College, The Navajo Nation, Din College, and Navajo Community Health Representatives. The goal of the current UA SRP CEC is to specifically focus on community engagement with Native Americans living near mining sites, as these communities are disproportionately impacted by mining and arsenic contaminated water, resulting in increased exposure to arsenic and higher rates of diabetes, particularly uncontrolled diabetes. Supported by the Data Management and Analysis Core and the Administration Core and working in close coordination with the Research Experience and Training Coordination Core, the CEC will ensure community-engaged participatory research, training, education and capacity building through the development of community-engaged tools centered around a solution-based approach to indigenous food sovereignty as a means to minimize and mitigate the increased risk of diabetes. Food sovereignty efforts are developing and exist in many tribal communities, however, the connection to arsenic in water as a result of mining and increased risks to diabetes is lacking. Using findings from the UA SRP research projects, the CEC will engage in multi-lateral communications with key stakeholders. Specifically, the CEC will be instrumental in innovatively engaging tribal communities in a manner that takes cultural values and traditions into consideration (in an indigenous-centric manner) and will provide training, education and capacity building to maintain food sovereignty and decrease the risks of arsenic exposure. By empowering tribal communities to take local action to mitigate and minimize these impacts in a more sustained manner, the approach of the UA SRP CEC will be truly bilateral. Finally, the UA SRP CEC will engage tribal partners in the research process to increase understanding of environmental and health risks of mining and arsenic contaminated waters that lead to increased risks to diabetes. Most critically, the CEC will engage in mitigation approaches to reduce and minimize risks to vulnerable Native American populations. Engagement with tribal communities will increase awareness of risks and best practices in ways that honor tribal sovereignty and knowledge and aid in cultural understanding while reducing racial misconceptions and fostering university-community partnerships based on trust and transparency.

Public Health Relevance

(Community Engagement Core: Chief, Rainie, Maier) The University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) Community Engagement Core (CEC) will utilize community-based participatory research to address increased exposure to arsenic and the impact of exposure on metabolic diseases, particularly diabetes risk, in Native American communities living near mining sites. Recent evidence suggests that Native American communities are disproportionately impacted by mining and arsenic contaminated water, resulting in increased rates of diabetes in Native Americans. The tools developed by the UA SRP CEC will be used for multi-lateral communications with Native American communities to enable these vulnerable populations to make informed decisions on health issues related to mining, arsenic contamination, and remediation efforts.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Hazardous Substances Basic Research Grants Program (NIEHS) (P42)
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University of Arizona
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