Uranium poisoning legacy

The press reports that 12 states are designated as high-level risk for radiation exposure.

In New Mexico, a majority of patients being treated for uranium exposure are mining industry workers. Between 1953 and 1993, New Mexico was the leader in the United States uranium production. Many Navajo people have been exposed and affected by uranium.

The Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control of the University of New Mexico provides three clinics to address these issues. Ameenah Fox, clinical outreach coordinator, explained that one is at the UNM, whil another is the Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna clinic and serves three tribal groups: the Acoma Pueblo (population 3,500), the Laguna Pueblo (5,500) and the Canoncito (now To’hajiilee) Navajos (1,100).

The Northern Navajo Medical Center at Shiprock is the third facility and serves uranium industry workers and down-winders who reside on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Fox states that “There have been 30,000 claims to date and 71 per cent have been approved.” The maladies most often diagnosed are pulmonary-system cancers and kidney diseases. Fox stated a number of family members’ claims have been approved following a relative’s death from radiation exposure.

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