Environmental Exposures to Metals in Native Communities and Implications for Child Development: Basis for the Navajo Birth Cohort Study.
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Two disparate statistics often cited for the western United States raise concern about risks for developmental disabilities in Native American children. First, thirteen of the states with the highest percentage of Native American population are located in the western United States (U.S. Census Bureau [US Census Bureau], 2012). Second, more than 161,000 abandoned hard rock mines are located in twelve western states (General Accounting Office, 2014). Moreover, numerous studies have linked low-level metals exposure with birth defects and developmental delays. Concern has emerged among tribal populations that metals exposure from abandoned mines may threaten development of future generations.