COMMISSION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION
THREE COUNTRIES WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT OUR SHARED ENVIRONMENT
In some indigenous communities across North America, many family homes are poorly ventilated. Airborne contamination is caused by wood-burning in the home, over-crowding and poorly designed or underused vents.
These conditions can lead to severe respiratory disease in children, and in the CEC’s pilot project on Alaskan indoor air quality, 45 of the 66 children from the 15 homes involved reported a severe lung infection before the age of two. Because of the isolation of some remote Alaskan communities, treatment involves airlifts and hospitalization that can be in excess of $50,000 per child.
In 2011, the CEC partnered with the largest tribally-managed health organization in the United States, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, to conduct a health and monitoring study that was followed by home improvements in the communities of Kwethluk and Hooper Bay. Local community workers installed and/or replaced 40 new vents in 15 homes, installed five range exhausts and replaced woodstoves in seven of the 15 homes with EPA-approved, low- emission woodstoves.
Preliminary data show a 32.4 percent drop in average CO2 in the homes in Kwethluk, and a 24 percent drop in average CO2 in the homes in Hooper Bay.
The initial results are encouraging and the project will be carried out in two more communities in the Bristol Bay and Yukon–Kuskokwim regions in the coming year. The CEC expects this approach can be shared across similar communities in Canada and Mexico.
For more information, visit www.cec.org/Alaskaair.