Populations Exposed To Environmental Uranium
By Leuren Moret
This article is taken from Namaste Magazine - Vol 10, Issue 4
PO Box 127, Shrewsbury, SY37WS, United Kingdom
Guardians And Caretakers:
“The Navajos help guard the land for the Hopi. We don’t want them to leave. This is their sacred land, too. The White Man is the one who needs to leave before Nature intervenes. The Great Spirit made us caretakers of this land. We take care of it with our prayers and our ceremony. Now you poison it and rape it and destroy it with your strip mines and uranium tailings and power plants – all on sacred land! And you try to chase the last few Indians off so you can do your dirty work.” Thomas Banyacya, HopiMMMs
Living on the Navajo Reservation heavily contaminated from uranium mining, a young Navajo girl when she was nine, lost her grandmother, her ama’sa’ni, to breast cancer. Her mother later had breast cancer twice. When Stefanie Raymond-Whish decided to become a molecular biologist at the University of Northern Arizona, she dedicated her research to finding the root causes of breast cancer.
Lood Doo Nadziihii - "The Sore That Does Not Heal"
Raymond-Whish discovered that there was New Mexico State Tumor Registry data on the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Reservation, which showed a 17-fold increase in childhood reproductive cancers compared to the U.S. average. Ms. Williams, the journalist who wrote “On Cancer’s Trail” about Raymond-Whish reported “These are extremely rare cancers related to hormone systems”.
Another set of registry data from 1970-1982 showed a 2.5-fold increase in these cancers among all New Mexico Native Americans. A 1981 paper identified a possible link between proximity to uranium mine tailings and incidents of birth defects in families. Breast cancer is the number two killer of Navajo women after heart disease. Uterine and ovarian cancers doubled or tripled since 1970 in New Mexico Indians, with no change in whites and Hispanics.
This has prompted the U.S. Health and Human Services to fund a study on kidney disease to be done jointly by a Navajo health agency and a New Mexico state agency. They will be looking at 1300 Navajos and 160 drinking wells, compiling illness data and analyses of drinking water contaminants (uranium, arsenic, etc.). With less than ¼ of the wells tested, the study has already established that living within 0.8 kilometer from an abandoned mine is a significant predictor of kidney disease and diabetes.
This suggests that local uranium pollution point sources are contaminating the groundwater on the Navajo reservation where many family dwellings have their own well. Municipal drinking water supplies, utilized by whites and Hispanics in more populated urban areas, may explain the reduced uterine cancer rates in non-Indian populations.
Dr. Ernest Sternglass has recommended that reverse osmosis filtration systems, for a cost to the U.S Government of about $500 per household, will remove heavy metals including uranium and other contaminants from water. He suggests that the U.S Government cost of providing these systems to contaminated Native American populations would be far cheaper than the public health studies and high health care costs of chronic exposure to uranium contamination.
Another Mouse Study And A Different Outcome -
When Raymond-Whish received her PhD in May 2008, she had already co-published a groundbreaking paper identifying uranium as an estrogen disruptor and a serious cause of infertility as well as breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer. She and researchers exposed mice to depleted uranium contaminated drinking water below the U.S. EPA water standard of picoCuries/Liter (or about 1 Bequerrel), in other words at levels the U.S. government considered to be a minimal health risk.
“Mice that drank uranium-containing water exhibited estrogenic responses including selective reduction of primary follicies, increased uterine weight, greater uterine luminal epithelial cell height, accelerated vaginal opening, and persistent presence of cornified vaginal cells. Coincident treatment with the antiestrogen ICI 182,780 blocked these responses to uranium or the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol. In addition, mouse dams that drank uranium-containing water delivered grossly normal pups, but they had significantly fewer primordial follicies than pups whose dams drank control tap water.”
Their Conclusions Were:
“Because of the decades of uranium mining/milling in the Colorado plateau in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest, the uranium concentration and the route of exposure used in these studies are environmentally relevant. Our data support the conclusion that uranium is an endocrine-disrupting chemical and populations exposed to environmental uranium should be followed for increased risk of fertility problems and reproductive cancers.”
Andrea Gore, a neuroendocrinologist at the University of Texas, Austin, and former advisor to the National Science Foundation considers this to be a groundbreaking study:
“This is a science of subtlety, (Dyer’s and Raymond-Whish’s) work is consistent with other good labs. People criticize the field of endocrine disruption because we don’t always understand the mechanisms, but the effects are real. This is why animal studies are so important. The responses we see in lab animals can happen in humans, because we share the exact same hormones. The estrogen receptor is similar.”
Leuren Moret is a geoscientist and environmental scientist. She is an expert on atmospheric dusts, and how they move and are transported around the world. She was an expert witness at the International Criminal Tribunal For Afghanistan At Tokyo. She is an independent scientist and international expert on radiation and public health issues. She has worked internationally on radiation issues, educating citizens, the media, members of Parliaments and Congress and other officials.
She became a whistleblower in 1991 at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab after experiencing major science fraud on the Yucca Mountain Project. Leuren is a former Environmental Commissioner of the City of Berkeley and President of for Scientists of Indigenous People.
Tel: +1 510 845 3139
Ms. Moret has written a very comprehensive article on “Populations Exposed To Environmental Uranium”. I am using only the portion of her write up for Native Unity that pertains to Raymond-Whish and Native Americans. BHO
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