222043 Impact of Oil Development on Air Quality in an Alaska Native Village

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jennifer Dobson, REHS , Division of Environmental Health and Engineering, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK
Troy L. Ritter, REHS, MPH, DAAS , Division of Environmental Health and Engineering, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK
David Driscoll, PhD, MPH , Institute for Crcumpolar Health Studies, University of Alaska, Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
The North Slope of Alaska is home to the largest oil field in North America, Prudhoe Bay. The Alaska Native village of Nuiqsut is located 56 miles away from Prudhoe Bay and 8 miles from the Alpine oil field where oil is extracted and undergoes initial refinement. Nuiqsut is an Inupiat Eskimo community of 424 people, many of whom follow a traditional subsistence lifestyle. The community has expressed concerns about the nearby oil development, resulting air pollution, and potential health implications. While some air monitoring has been conducted by the oil industry, there has been no independent assessment of the impact of oil drilling on the health of Nuiqsut residents. Our objectives include the following: to measure airborne levels of criteria pollutants; characterize rates of respiratory disease; and identify other risk factors of respiratory disease.

Air monitors were installed at three separate locations around Nuiqsut to collect data on levels of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. We conducted semi-structured interviews with household representatives to determine knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to air quality and respiratory health. Additionally, we completed a community environmental walkthrough to identify other potential risk factors.

While data collection and analysis is on-going, preliminary results suggest that levels of airborne pollutants are high. A number of risk factors were identified which may be influencing rates of respiratory disease. Further research is needed to establish or refute a causal link between oil development and increased risk of respiratory disease among Nuiqsut residents.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss data collection strategies used to monitor air pollutants and related knowledge, attitudes, and practices of community residents. Identify potential air quality impacts in Alaska Native villages affected by oil development.

Keywords: Environmental Health, Air Pollutants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I coordinate the ANTHC tribal air quality program and am responsible for data collection and community coordination for this project. Additionally, I am pursing a MPH with a focus on rural environmental health issues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.