FORT HALL — An outside consulting firm is planning to study whether releases from the FMC plant can be tied to higher occurrences of cancer, childhood asthma and mortality on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
The Fort Hall Environmental Health Assessment Study is a provision of the 1998 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Consent Decree between FMC and the Environmental Protection Agency that requires FMC to work with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to determine the potential health effects caused by releases from the FMC phosphorus plant.
Exponent, Inc., an engineering and scientific consulting firm, has been selected by the Tribes and FMC to conduct the study. The study is funded by FMC.
Four health studies are currently being considered. The first will study the occurrence of cancer, the second childhood asthma and the third will look at causes of death. The fourth study will determine if exposure led to a specific disease or group of diseases among the population.
The health study is currently in the feasibility stage and experts with Exponent are working to identify as many residents of the Fort Hall Reservation as possible from 1949 to the current date to participate. They are also gathering data about exposures and gauging the willingness of residents to participate.
"It's really important for us to figure out exactly who lived here and when," Principal Investigator Jon Fryzek said. "We just want to make this study as strong as we can."
A study to determine feasibility will be sent out to residents, followed by a longer survey regarding health history. Fryzek said they want to use data from as many people as possible and that participation will be very important to the success of the study.
The survey process is expected to take 36 months to complete. Fryzek said they will maintain open communication with the community throughout the process.