Using environmental health dialogue in a Diné-centered approach for individualized results reporting in an environmental exposure study following the Gold King Mine Spill

Yoshira Ornelas Van Horne, Stephanie Russo Carroll, Karletta Chief, Nathan Z. Lothrop, Jennifer R. Richards, Mae Gilene Begay, Perry H. Charley, Jani C. Ingram, Paloma I. Beamer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: On August 5, 2015, the Gold King Mine Spill (GKMS) resulted in 3 million gallons of acid mine drainage spilling into the San Juan River impacting the Diné Bikeyah (traditional homelands of the Navajo people). The Gold King Mine Spill Diné Exposure Project was formed to understand the impacts of the GKMS on the Diné (Navajo). Reporting individualized household results in an exposure study is becoming more common; however, materials are often developed with limited community input with knowledge flowing in one direction - from researcher to participant. In this study we examined the development, dissemination, and evaluation of individualized results materials. Methods: In August 2016, Navajo Nation Community Health Representatives (Navajo CHRs) sampled household water, dust, and soil, and resident blood and urine for lead and arsenic, respectively. From May–July 2017, iterative dialogue with a wide range of community partners and a community focus groups guided the development of a culturally-based dissemination process. In August 2017, Navajo CHRs reported individualized results and they surveyed the participants on the report-back process at that time. Results: All of the 63 Diné adults (100%) who participated in the exposure study received their results by a CHR in person and 42 (67%) completed an evaluation. Most of those participants (83%) were satisfied with the result packets. Respondents ranked the individual and overall household results as the most important information they received (69% and 57%, respectively), while information on metals exposures and their health effects were the least helpful. Conclusions: Our project illustrates how a model of environmental health dialogue, defined by iterative, multidirectional communication among Indigenous community members, trusted Indigenous leaders, Indigenous researchers, non-Indigenous researchers, can improve reporting individualized study results. Findings can inform future research to encourage multi-directional environmental health dialogue to craft more culturally responsive and effective dissemination and communication materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116196
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Aug 15 2023


  • Diné (Navajo)
  • Disaster
  • Environment health dialogue
  • Environmental justice
  • Gold king mine spill
  • Indigenous health
  • Report back of research results

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science

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