NEHA November 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

34 Volume 85 • Number 4 A D VANC EME N T O F T H E PRACTICE Center at the University of Arizona, and codirector of the University of New Mexico Center for Native Environmental Health Equity Research, explained the importance of working with community members when developing the assessment. “Every community has different priorities and we really strive to make sure that those are identified early on in a collaborative process so that we can design tools and facilitate something that’s appropriate for each community,” he said. Each community selected tribal members to participate in the project. These members worked with AASTEC staff (and collaborators like Dr. Hoover) to develop a data collection tool tailored for conducting home assessments in each community. AASTEC staff also assisted in training community members to conduct home assessments, assess homes for fall injury risk factors using an injury prevention checklist, and measure home indoor radon concentration levels (Figure 1). Next, community members utilized the collected data to identify and prioritize housing remediation and mitigation services. These services included securing f loors, repairing steps, installing handrails, replacing smoke detector batteries, and providing fire extinguishers. Dr. Yazzie explained that THHP provides an opportunity for tribal communities to enhance home radon information in their communities and identify any needed home repairs. In addition to measuring home indoor radon, THHP also collects fall and injury prevention data, interior and exterior housing quality data, and geospatial data. After data collection, the data were returned to tribal community partners. “I think that the data set that’s been generated through THHP has been really beneficial because sometimes the resources to immediately address those deficiencies, or those safety concerns or environmental hazards, aren’t immediately available,” Dr. Hoover said. “But having up-to-date information and having accessible data for grant applications has really made a very positive impact.” When implementing THHP, AASTEC staff honored tribal traditions, ceremonies, and practices, and found common ground between tribal communities, environmental health priorities, and funding priorities. Dr. Yazzie and Dr. Hoover noted that community partners successfully managed this work alongside their tribal community events and responsibilities. THHP was able to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic to facilitate virtual training. Prior to the pandemic, THHP activities were conducted in person, which facilitated communication, networking, and relationship building. As part of THHP, AASTEC staff developed a geospatial data collection tool that integrates location information with a survey on building conditions and environmental exposures. A pilot project funded by the National Indian Health Board will work on expanding this healthy home survey tool for COVID-19 case investigation and storage in the AASTEC Southwest Indigenous Data Portal. This project will further support community efforts to conduct different environmental health assessment activities beyond healthy housing. Reflecting on the elements that contributed to the success of the project, Dr. Yazzie and Dr. Hoover highlighted the need to identify key stakeholders and obtain necessary permissions before implementing an environmental health program in a tribal community. Bronze Award Winner Diné College School of STEM Summer Internship Program Corporations operated hundreds of uranium mines throughout the Navajo Nation in Arizona over many decades. When the market for uranium dried up, these mines were abandoned, leaving brownfield sites polluted with uranium ore scattered across the reservation. Today, faculty from Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, are working to remediate contaminated areas and reclaim the land for community use. Each year, the Diné College School of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), sponsored by grants from the National Science Foundation, U.S. EnviFlyer Created by the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center to Promote National Radon Action Month Flyer courtesy of Sheldwin Yazzie, Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center. FIGURE 1

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