Statement Of Chandra Bales
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
Los Angeles, California
April 29, 2003
Earth Data Analyses
University of New Mexico
[PDF, 643 KB]
An EPA and NICOA Mapping Team Project on the Monograph Series on American Indian Health and the Environment
The NICOA Mapping Team consists of the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA), Earth Data Analysis Center (EDAC) at the University of New Mexico, and Data Analysis Service (DAS). Through a contract with the EPA, the Mapping Team is assessing tribal concerns and issues in health and environmental factors. This assessment includes Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and its potential for providing environmental data and information. A Web-served GIS application could provide both information dissemination and analytical functions. Such an application would provide on-line mapping and query functions for visual interpretation, and comprehensive spatial data sets and functions for analysis.
Many American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities are rural, and these people often do not receive up-to-date information on environmental conditions or impacts to their health. While they might be somewhat isolated geographically, the communities are still affected by human activities, whether those actions are urban or industrial. A GIS application can map communities and topographic and geographic data for spatial reference, and allow the addition of environmental and population data for reference and for spatial analysis. As an example, reservations can be mapped with neighboring urban areas, roads, rivers, terrain (such as mountains), and then with environmental features such as mines or industrial discharge sites. A GIS hydrological analysis could show what features, including the reservation, are in the downstream path of run-off from a local mine or industrial facility. Children and the elderly are often the most impacted by environmental contaminants, such as those in run-off or in the dry run-off residue. Census data can be layered in the GIS to map residents by age ranges.
Satellite imagery enhances the application to show further relationships within the GIS. For example, ozone, aerosols, and fires can be mapped from satellite imagery, and these images can be layered with data sets for community locations and other pertinent features. This information warns people of potential atmospheric conditions and allows them to make decisions that affect personal activity. A person with respiratory problems would not want to spend much time outside if a wildfire in the region was generating a lot of smoke and carbon monoxide. The AI/AN population experiences a large number of diabetes cases, and these often result in cardiopulmonary problems. Information on the air that the people are breathing would be valuable in determining daily actions. Tribal health and environment departments could also combine readily updated GIS data sets with local health data for analysis and trend identification.
A GIS application, easily accessible over the Web, would allow one to map data sets and to query databases. The application would be a venue for public information and for local analysis of environmental conditions and how they might impact public health.
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