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History of ATSDR's Involvement

In March 2008, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), then-Chair of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee instructed five federal agencies including the Indian Health Service (IHS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to develop a 5-year plan for addressing uranium contamination and remediation on the Navajo Nation.

In September 2008, CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) were asked to participate in the Waxman effort. Initially, CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) collaborated with EPA Region 9 on a water quality study. The purpose of the water quality study was to investigate public health impacts of hauling water from unregulated water wells. In 2009, Congress directed ATSDR to conduct what has now become known as the Navajo Birth Cohort Study. The study was funded at $2M/year for 3 years (FY2010-2012).

Through a funding opportunity announcement in early 2010, the University of New Mexico (UNM) was awarded $1M/year to design and implement the study. The Navajo Nation Division of Health (NDOH) and Indian Health Service (IHS) each receive funds as well to assist with clinical and community/participant outreach activities. UNM will also collaborate with programs located on or near the Navajo Nation that specialize in child developmental delays.