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Reducing exposure and preserving cultural traditions
2012 - 2013 UPDATE...
2 CTUIR-OSU Partnership
The Project
In 2011-2012, twenty spring-run
Chinook were purchased from a Tribal
fisherman. Two ba...
Smoked Salmon
Salmon were smoked in the tipi and
smoke shed followin...
Indigenous cultures perceive the natural environment as an
essential link between traditional cultural practices, social
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The Community Engagement Core (CEC) within the Superfund Research Center at Oregon State University builds scientific capacity in Tribal communities and cultural capacity within the research community. We are improving risk assessment models by accounting for tribal land-use scenarios and unique exposure pathways. By translating this knowledge into effective and appropriate risk reduction strategies, we will reduce environmental disparities and improve the health of Pacific Northwest Tribes.

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  1. 1. SUPERFUND RESEARCH PROGRAM Reducing exposure and preserving cultural traditions CTUIR - OSU PARTNERSHIP 2012 - 2013 UPDATE Traditional tipi Modern smoke shed Fresh salmon fillets Learning about exposure pathways that are relevant to Native American lifestyles People are exposed to environmental pollution from many pathways including the air we breathe and the food we eat. Native American lifestyles are closely entwined with their natural environment and traditional cultural practices. This creates complex exposure pathways that are not well described and often overlooked by environmental managers. One such pathway is the smoking of food. Salmon, a first food, is important to the subsistence of Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest. The salmon run from spring until fall. Smoking salmon is one of the traditional ways to preserve this seasonally abundant food and make it available year round. Scientists at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s (CTUIR) Department of Science and Engineering (DOSE) are collaborating with Oregon State University (OSU) to collect information on environmental exposures that are relevant for the people of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. DOSE uses this information to develop culturally appropriate strategies to reduce environmental exposures and contribute knowledge for self-protection, pollution prevention, and remediation. This information is important for protecting Tribal health and can be used by other communities that confront environmental injustice. After discussions with a tribal advisory panel and community members, it was decided to study exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that result from smoking foods. PAHs are a family of chemicals produced by burning organic material such as wood. They are also produced by burning fossil fuels. In the air, PAHs become attached to particles in the soot and ash. People can be exposed to PAHs from breathing contaminated air or eating smoked foods although many other exposure pathways exist. Many PAHs are considered to be harmful but the toxicity of each PAH can differ. This is why it is important to identify the type of PAH generated by different exposure pathways and its concentration in order to determine if there is a risk to people’s health. 2 The project & air pollutants 3 Eating smoked salmon 4 Focus group discussions
  2. 2. 2 CTUIR-OSU Partnership The Project In 2011-2012, twenty spring-run Chinook were purchased from a Tribal fisherman. Two batches of salmon were smoked over a two day period. Two tribal members volunteered to allow scientists to observe them while they smoked salmon with one person using a tipi and the other using a smoke shed. Each volunteer wore air sampling equipment and turned it on every time they went into the smoking structures. The samplers pull air across a filter that traps soot and particles. This information shows the PAH level in the air inside the structures. Volunteers provided urine samples over the two days to find out if any PAHs were absorbed by their bodies. Samples of the smoked salmon were also collected to find out if PAHs were present. The samples were shared with OSU researchers who have developed state-of-the art methods for identifying and measuring PAHs. The data generated from this study are the property of the CTUIR. They approve any use of the data or samples. Approval was also obtained by the CTUIR Health Commission, the Portland Area Indian Health Board, and OSU’s Institutional Review Board. Air pollutants The data showed the air in the tipi and the smoke shed contained PAHs. The concentration of PAHs in the air inside the tipi were lower than what was measured in the smoke shed after adjusting for the amount of time each volunteer spent smoking salmon. The volunteer who smoked salmon inside the tipi also had lower concentrations of PAHs in their urine compared to the volunteer in the smoke shed indicating that person absorbed less PAHs in their body. These comparisons suggest that smoking salmon inside a tipi may lead to a lower PAH exposure for the person who is smoking salmon. More data are needed, however, to determine if these exposure patterns are always true. Smoking Salmon Measuring PAH exposures in volunteers who smoke salmon and in the preserved fish Volunteers tending the fire in the tipi (left) and smoke shed (right). Notice the volunteer wearing the air sampler in the tipi. It is the black bag on his hip with the red inlet positioned on his shirt near his face. The concentration of PAHs in air of the CTUIR smoke shed (green) and CTUIR tipi (orange)were compared to two studies conducted in the United Kingdom (blue). The person smoking fish in the tipi had the lowest personal exposure to total PAHs. Commercial fish smokehouse data (blue) was reported by Unwin et al (2006) An assessment of occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the United Kingdom. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 50 (4):395-403. 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 Commercial fish smoke house #1 CTUIR smoke shed Commercial fish smoke house #2 CTUIR tipi TotalPAHinair (microgramspercubicmeter)
  3. 3. 3REDUCING EXPOSURE AND PRESERVING CULTURAL TRADITIONS Smoked Salmon Salmon were smoked in the tipi and smoke shed following traditional practices using fresh apple wood or cured alder wood. No brines or liquid flavorings were added to the fish. The samples were screened for 33 PAHs. PAHs that are known to increase the risk of cancer are called carcinogenic. Otherwise, they are called non- carcinogenic. Seventy-five samples were collected from the twenty fully smoked salmon. Sixteen non-carcinogenic PAHs and six carcinogenic PAHs were routinely found in the samples. Only one non- carcinogenic PAH was detected in the salmon before the fish was smoked. These data show that most of the PAHs in smoked salmon resulted from the smoking process. While there was little difference in the amount of PAHs deposited in the smoked salmon by smoking structure or type of wood, it was noted that salmon smoked in the shed with alder wood consistently had slightly higher concentrations of PAHs. As a comparison, three types of commercially-available smoked salmon were purchased in a grocery store. Testing revealed that store bought smoked salmon also contained four PAHs but in lower concentrations and none were carcinogenic. The different PAH profiles in traditional versus commercial smoked salmon is likely due to the different methods used to smoke fish. The traditional smoking practices observed in this project used higher temperatures (90-120°C) and relied on the wood smoke to dry and cure the fish. Commercial methods, on the other hand, use lower temperatures (15-30°C) and expose the fish to wood smoke for shorter periods of time. This produces a smoked salmon product that usually has a higher moisture content. Some of the PAHs detected in the traditionally smoked salmon are harmful to health and increase the risk of cancer. The probability of harm, however, depends on how long a person is exposed to these compounds and how much smoked salmon they eat. There are other contaminants that can be found in salmon such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls. These chemicals were not measured in this study and are not generated by smoking. Some studies report that smoking reduces the concentration of some of these chemicals in fish. The findings from this study were published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. Practical Suggestions Salmon is nutritious and rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the brain and protect against heart disease. In order to continue enjoying the health benefits and the cultural heritage associated with salmon, while also limiting exposure to PAHs, we recommend that people rotate eating fresh, frozen, canned, and dried salmon with smoked salmon. Children and pregnant women may also want to limit how much smoked salmon they eat and enjoy it prepared in other ways. Total PAH in salmon was measured in micrograms per kilogram wet weight. All samples prepared by the volunteers using traditional hot smoking methods had significantly higher PAH levels compared to commercially purchased cold smoked salmon.
  4. 4. Indigenous cultures perceive the natural environment as an essential link between traditional cultural practices, social connectedness, identity, and health. Many tribal communities face substantial health disparities related to exposure to environmental hazards. We asked 27 volunteers who were members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation about their opinions on meanings of health and how their environment interacts with their health. People expressed a holistic view of health that included environmental, physical, mental, spiritual, and social components. A healthy natural environment was identified as an essential component of a healthy individual and a healthy community. People also described many environmental health concerns including second-hand smoke, outdoor smoke, diesel exhaust, mold, pesticides, contaminated natural foods, and toxic wastes from the Hanford nuclear site and methamphetamine labs. Many believe the identified environmental hazards contribute to diseases in their community. All discussions made it clear that the natural environment is an important resource to CTUIR members and plays an integral role in achieving and maintaining health. Sharing these perspectives about the values and concerns of the community are useful to the tribal and federal governments, health professionals, environmental health practitioners, and community members who seek to achieve sustainable and healthy rural Native communities. The findings from the focus group discussions were published in the journal Environmental Justice. Stuart Harris, Director of DOSE Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation 46411 Timine Way, Pendleton, OR 97801 Telephone: (541) 429-7437 Anna Harding, Professor Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences 101 Milam Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331 Telephone: (541) 737-6914 Visit our website to learn about projects supported by OSU’s Superfund Outreach Core: Publications are available upon request and by visiting our website: Forsberg N, Stone D, Harding A, Harper B, Harris S, Matzke M, Cardenas A, Waters K, Anderson K. (2012). Effect of Native American fish smoking methods on dietary exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and possible risks to human health. Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, 60(27), 6899-6906. doi: 10.1021/jf300978m Schure M, Kile ML, Harding AK, Harper B, Harris S, Uesugi S, Goins T. (2013). Perceptions of environment and health among community mem- bers of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Envi- ronmental Justice, 6(3),115-120. doi: 10.1089/env.2013.0022. This project is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program grant P42 ESO16465 Focus Groups Asking tribal members about their opinions on health and the environment 4 Tribal Advisory Board Members Julie Burke - CTUIR Tribal member Pat Cirone - retired from US EPA and experienced working with tribes on environmental issues Jamie Donatuto - Environmental Health Analyst, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Katie Frevert - Research Translation and Engagement Core Director, University of Washington Superfund Research Program Tim Gilbert - Chief Executive Officer, Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center Kelly Gonzales - Tribal member and Assistant Professor of Community Health, Portland State University Bill Lambert - Associate Professor, Oregon Health Science University, Dept. of Preventive Medicine Charlie Picard - Manager, Community Health Services Program, Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center Bryan Tilt - Associate Professor, Oregon State University School of Language, Culture & Society Matilda Hoisington - CTUIR Tribal member Delphine Wood - CTUIR Tribal member Gail Woodside - Tribal member and PhD student at Oregon State University in Fisheries and Wildlife.