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The Mohawk community has always sustained themselves through farming and fishing. With the threat of fluoride contamination, that is not a choice for our members any longer. Over the past 7-8 years, the SRMT Environment Office and NYS DEC have collected vegetation samples throughout the surrounding area of the three industrial plants and several places on the Reservation. Fluoride vegetation levels are regulated by NYS Air Resources, Ambient Air Quality standards, part 257.8 and by the newly promulgated Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards for Primary Aluminum Smelters.
Vegetation showing the following levels are in exceedance:
• 80 ppm = 30 day violation
• 60 ppm = 60 day violation
• 40 ppm = growing season violation
Samples are made up of any type of vegetation that a grazing animal would eat. Samples are collected into paper bags and sent to a lab in Ithaca. The samples are dried, ground up and sieved through a 1.0 mm mesh screen. It is then combusted in an oxygen bomb and analyzed using a specific ion electrode.
With very little notice to the Tribe, NYS DEC decided to halt all fluoride sampling effective January 1998. This concerned the Tribe, since Reynolds would be restarting their third potline, which is comprised mostly of unmodernized pots. Emissions from this line would increase the amount of fluoride deposition and violations from Reynolds. After protest from the Tribe, NYS DEC reinstated the sampling program with personnel help from the Tribe. We have been sampling from May to October every year since it has been reinstated.
In order to address potential concerns by community members about exposures to various contaminants in the region, the Tribe has asked Industrial Economics, Incorporated to produce a series of data reports that summarize pertinent information about contamination of natural resources of specific concern to the Tribe. This report synthesizes available information about concentrations of fluoride measured in vegetables grown in Tribal membersí gardens, as well as in soil from the gardens, and water applied to the gardens. It also examines concentrations of fluoride measured in cattle feed grasses as part of ongoing monitoring of fluoride pollution and particulate fluoride from filter samples as well as local deer jaw samples.
Click Here to View Report - 1.2 MB PDF File