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The bioaccumulation of uranium in sheep heart and kidney: the impact of contaminated traditional food sources on the Navajo Reservation

Lister, Andee Rose (2018) The bioaccumulation of uranium in sheep heart and kidney: the impact of contaminated traditional food sources on the Navajo Reservation. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Uranium ore was mined on the Colorado Plateau, which overlaps the majority of the Navajo Nation. There were various mining sites all across the Navajo Nation including Cameron, AZ where open pit mining occurred. The purpose of this study is to investigate uranium contamination of sheep on the Navajo Nation collected near Cameron and Leupp, AZ. Navajo rely on sheep as part of their traditional diet. This research seeks to characterize uranium exposure and accumulation with respect to grazing on or near abandoned uranium mine sites. The sheep tissue samples were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). Sheep exposed to uranium near the mine sites in Cameron are compared to a control group that grazes in areas that were not mined on the reservation (Leupp), and an overall control site off the reservation (Eagar). The request was made from the communities of Cameron and Leupp to study the sheep for uranium. The results indicate that there are measurable levels of uranium in the meat and tissue of sheep from both Leupp and Cameron. The organs analyzed were the kidney and heart; the uranium levels ranged from 50 to 200 ppb. The results from Cameron and Leupp were relatively similar, a t-test confirmed inclusiveness, due to variation in the sample. The next step is incorporating an additional site off the reservation, Eagar, AZ. The results suggest the reservation sites (Cameron and Leupp) are statistically higher than the off-reservation site (Eagar). The results of our research will be used to develop policy for the Navajo Nation with respect to contamination of traditional foods.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: icpms; navajo; sheep; uranium
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
Date Deposited: 10 May 2021 19:56
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5450

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