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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Lifestyle and Cultural Practices of Tribal Populations and Risks from Toxic Substances in the Environment

Opening Date: January 29, 2002
Closing Date: July 10, 2002

Summary of Program Requirements
Introduction
Background
Specific Areas of Interest
References
Funding
Eligibility
Standard Instructions for Submitting an Application
Contact

Access Standard STAR Forms and Instructions  (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/index.html)
View NCER Research Capsules  (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/publications/topical/)
View research awarded under previous solicitations  (http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/research.search/rpt/abs/type/3)



SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
GENERAL INFORMATION

Program Title:
Lifestyle and Cultural Practices of Tribal Populations and Risks from Toxic Substances in the Environment

Synopsis of Program:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry are seeking applications for research on lifestyle and cultural practices of Tribal populations and risks from toxic substances in the environment.  Tribal populations may be at especially high risk for environmentally-caused diseases and health outcomes as a result of their subsistence lifestyles, occupations and customs, and/or environmental releases impacting tribal lands.   This solicitation invites applications in two areas of current interest, the development of: 1) exposure and effects assessment methods that can be broadly applied across geographic regions and Tribal populations and 2) risk management strategies and options that will lead to reduction in risk from exposure.

Contact Person:
Nigel Fields
Phone: (228) 688-1981
email: fields.nigel@epa.gov

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s): 66.500

Eligibility Information:
Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state or local governments, and Tribal organizations and colleges are eligible under all existing authorizations.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 3-4
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $1.5 million
Potential Funding per Grant per Year: Up to $150,000 per year for a total of up to three years

Sorting Code:
The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2002-STAR-J1.

Deadline/Target Dates:
Letter of Intent Due Date(s): None
Application Proposal Due Date(s): No later than 4:00 p.m. ET, July 10, 2002
 



Introduction

In this announcement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) and the U.S. Department of Human Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), invite research grant applications on “Lifestyle and Cultural Practices of Tribal Populations and Risks from Toxic Substances in the Environment.”

EPA's research programs focus on reduction of risks to human health and ecosystems and on the reduction of uncertainty associated with risk assessment. Through its laboratories and through grants to academic and other not-for-profit institutions, EPA promotes research in both domains, according the highest priority to those areas in which risk assessors are most in need of new concepts, methods, models and data. EPA also fosters the development and evaluation of new risk reduction technologies across a spectrum, from pollution prevention through end-of-pipe controls to remediation and monitoring. In all areas, EPA is especially interested in groups that may be particularly at high risk, referred to as sensitive subpopulations.  This solicitation focuses on one such group, namely, Tribal populations.  Because of their unique lifestyle including subsistence diets, occupations and hobbies, ceremonial customs and other cultural practices and/or environmental releases impacting Tribal land, Tribal populations may be at especially high risk.  A Tribal focus also recognizes and continues the Agency’s commitment  to Tribes that arises from the unique trust obligations established under treaties between nations.

ATSDR is directed by Congressional mandate to perform specific functions concerning the effect on public health of hazardous substances in the environment. These functions include applied research in support of public health assessments, information development and dissemination, and education and training concerning hazardous substances.  Supporting research proposals awarded as a result of this RFA is consistent with a number of ATSDR’s research focus areas for 2002–2010, including ascertaining the relationship between exposure to toxic substances and disease and developing and providing reliable, understandable information for people in affected communities and tribes and for stakeholders.  ATSDR’s interest in this grant solicitation is to assist Tribes in their understanding of exposures, potential health risks, and ways to reduce exposures and risks that are culturally acceptable.

Background

There is an increased awareness that subsistence may lead to increased health risks (Marien and Patrick, 2001; Wheatley and Wheatley, 2000; Harris and Harper, 2000; Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program, 1997).  For the purposes of this solicitation, subsistence is defined as a way of life that incorporates the use of ecosystem resources as a means of obtaining the necessities of life.  Subsistence reliance may be reflected in the preparation and use of foods, medicines, crafts, tools or ceremonial objects as part of dietary, ritual/cultural and occupational practices.  Utilization of subsistence resources is often based on traditional patterns and knowledge that may be passed down from previous generations.  The reasoning behind the concern for increased health risks is that subsistence practices can lead to increased exposure to environmental contaminants.  This increased exposure may in turn result in increased incidence of chemical-related diseases and adverse health conditions.

The potential for exposures and health risks that are greater than those experienced by the general population may stem from a variety of sources and vary across subsistence groups and geographic regions.  It may be the result of increased consumption of fish and game that have high concentrations of harmful chemicals in edible tissues or from direct exposure to chemical residues on plants that are either eaten or used in craft, ceremonial or occupation situations (e.g., grasses, berries, nuts).  Although it is important to understand the risks associated with these individual practices, it is, perhaps, even more critical to understand the risks derived from the combined or  “cumulative” exposure experience associated with concurrent dietary, cultural and related practices.

The need to develop methods to assess subsistence-based exposure and to also increase capacity within Tribes to assess environmental health threats from subsistence lifestyle is clear. The two areas current interest to EPA are the development of 1) exposure and effects assessment methods that can be broadly applied across geographic regions and cultural practices and 2) risk management strategies and options that will lead to reduction in risk from exposure.  It is expected that Tribal members and representatives will play a leading role in the planning, conduct, analysis, translation and dissemination of the research.

SPECIFIC AREAS OF INTEREST

Exposure and Effects Assessment Methods

Proposals that are responsive to this RFA will demonstrate the ability of new or existing methods and models to measure and/or predict the cumulative exposure and effects directly related to subsistence practices.  Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • methods and studies to quantify subsistence-based exposures and attendant effects that occur primarily through food, medicinal, cultural/ceremonial and occupational practices.
  • models that integrate the data collected on the subsistence activities described above to ascertain/predict the cumulative exposure profile, that is, total exposure through diet, medicinal, cultural/ceremonial, occupational and other practices, and attendant risks.
Risk Management Approaches

EPA and ATSDR will support research that leads to the development of approaches to reduce subsistence-based risk, especially those that may not compromise lifestyles to a significant extent.  Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • the development of approaches to estimate the distribution of subsistence-based risk within or across subsistence groups and geographic regions including the relative contribution of various practices, e.g., diet, medicinal, cultural/ceremonial, occupational, and other, to the cumulative exposure.
  • the development of methods, which may include educational and/or intervention materials, to reduce risk in subsistence groups.
  • the development of culturally sensitive strategies, approaches, and plans that will lead to the reduction of subsistence-based risk.
EPA and ATSDR encourage applications that can address one or more of the above objectives that relate to lifestyle and cultural practices of tribal populations and risks from toxic substances in the environment. Four major benefits are expected from these grants (1) the development of new partnerships that respect the rights and different cultural practices of each of the participating tribes; (2) the development of exposure and risk models that assist the participating tribes in better understanding their exposures and how to reduce any health threats; (3) improved understanding of the many differences in lifestyle and cultural practices that can influence tribal exposures and health risks, as a result of aggregation of information from the grants; and (4) the development of integrated approaches and principles that may guide efforts undertaken subsequently by other populations.

References

Wheatley B, Wheatley MA.  2000 (Oct 2).  Methylmercury and the health of indigenous peoples: a risk management challenge for physical and social sciences and for public health policy.  Sci Total Environ 259 (1-3): 23-9.

Funds Available

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $1.5 million, including direct and indirect costs, will be awarded, depending on the availability of funds.  EPA and ATSDR anticipate funding approximately 3-4 grants under this RFA. The projected award per grant is up to $150,000 per year total costs for up to 3 years.  Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $450,000 will not be considered.

Eligibility

Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state or local governments, and Tribal organizations and colleges are eligible under all existing authorizations.  However, independent of the submitting entity, an application must reflect a participatory approach such that the community of concern has a leading role in the planning, conduct, analysis, translation and dissemination of the research.  Applications must have letters of support or similar documentation from the governing Tribal body for the Tribe(s) that is (are) involved in the study.  When appropriate, the Tribal Institutional Review Board (IRB) must also be involved in reviewing research proposals involving human subjects.  Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program.  Federal agencies and national laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, FFRDCs) may not apply.

Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant.  FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations.  They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator.  The principal investigator's institution/organization/governance may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research.  However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal employees may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program.  However, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant.1  The principal investigator’s institution may also enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector.  Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere, etc.  A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

 1EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities.  However, this interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant.  Interaction that is “incidental” is not reflected in a research proposal and involves no resource commitments.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Jack Puzak in NCER, phone (202) 564-6825, email: puzak.jack@epa.gov

Standard Instructions for Submitting an Application

A set of instructions on how applicants should apply for a STAR grant is found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/index.html.  Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application and the necessary forms for an application will be found on this web site.

Sorting Code

The need for a sorting code to be used in the application and for mailing is described in the Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application.  The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2002-STAR-J1

Contact

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA official indicated below.  Email inquiries are preferred.

Nigel Fields
(228) 688-1981
fields.nigel@epa.gov

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