Among the Navajo people, high levels of respiratory disease, such as asthma, exist in a population with low rates of cigarette smoking. Air quality outdoors and indoors affects respiratory health. Many Navajo Nation residents burn locally mined coal in their homes for heat, as coal is the most economical energy source. The U.S. Geological Survey and Dine College, in cooperation with the Navajo Division of Health, are conducting a study in the Shiprock, New Mexico, area to determine if indoor use of this coal might be contributing to some of the respiratory health problems experienced by the residents. Researchers in this study will (1) examine respiratory health data, (2) identify stove type and use, (3) analyze samples of coal that are used locally, and (4) measure and characterize air quality inside selected homes. This Fact Sheet summarizes the interim results of the study in both English and Navajo.
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Navajo coal and air quality in Shiprock, New Mexico