Using geospatial technology to inform risk assessment of human exposure to metals via consumption of animal meat and organs

Authors: Joseph Hoover*, University of New Mexico
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Indigenous Peoples, Animal Geographies
Keywords: GPS, animal tracking, exposure
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The presence of abandoned uranium mines in many Navajo communities raises concern about exposure to metals found in mine waste, and adjacent soil, water, and vegetation. Specifically, free-range livestock, which is a part to the traditional Navajo diet, has been observed grazing in areas impacted by historic uranium mining. The accumulation of uranium in the meat and organs of this livestock is largely unknown. . Our ability to interpret concentrations of uranium and other metals in animal tissue, and assess potential human exposure and risk from consumption, is limited by gaps in our understanding of the sources, mobility, and points of exposure for animals. To date there remains limited knowledge about how animal behavior patterns influence mine waste exposure. In collaboration with Dine College, Northern Arizona University we are conducting a targeted investigation of Bos taurus (cattle), Ovis aries (sheep), and Capra aegagrus hircus (goat) movement and grazing patterns to assess the risk of human exposure to metals from consumption of these free-ranging, locally-raised livestock. This study will use geospatial technology to determine the frequency and duration of livestock grazing in proximity to known locations of abandoned mines and waste. This work will enable us to identify the environmental, and land cover (e.g. vegetative food sources) factors associated with livestock grazing patterns and identify which factors are associated with metal and radionuclide accumulation in animal tissues consumed by the local community and to inform a broader risk assessment of human exposure to metals and radionuclides from abandoned uranium mining sources.

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