November Is National Native American Heritage Month

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November Is National Native American Heritage Month

Each November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes Native American Heritage Month (also referred to as American Indian Heritage Month).

EPA’s Indoor Environments Division works through collaboration and partnerships with tribal communities to increase awareness and access to information on indoor air quality (IAQ) issues and mitigation strategies and to support creating healthier indoor home and school environments. IAQ consistently has been ranked as a national and regional priority by tribal environmental programs.

Several poor IAQ–related issues in and around homes and schools have been linked to health conditions, including asthma and other respiratory-related conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Tribal and indigenous communities often are highly impacted by the environmental conditions and pollutants (e.g., radon, wood smoke, mold and moisture, poor ventilation) that can result in or enhance poor IAQ.


Because Native American and tribal populations are disproportionately affected by asthma, managing indoor environmental triggers is especially important. For more information on asthma efforts in your community, visit


Radon is estimated to cause thousands of lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. Decreasing your indoor exposure to radon can reduce your risk of developing lung cancer. After smoking, radon is identified as the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

EPA recommends you test your home for radon, learn how to interpret your test results, and take action to fix your home, if needed. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99 percent.

Secondhand Tobacco Smoke

Secondhand smoke—classified by EPA as a Group A carcinogen—contains more than 7,000 substances. Breathing in secondhand tobacco smoke can increase your chances of getting lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.

There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Eliminating secondhand smoke in the indoor environment will reduce its harmful health effects and improve IAQ and the comfort or health of occupants.

EPA Burn Wise

Residential wood smoke poses a health problem in many tribal communities. The smoke from wood burning is made up of a complex mixture of fine particles and gases, which can include such air pollutants as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that have been associated with the development of lung cancer. Wood smoke can affect everyone, but children, teenagers, older adults, people with lung disease (including asthma and COPD) and people with heart diseases are the most vulnerable. It is important to limit your exposure to smoke. Properly installed and correctly used wood-burning appliances should be smoke-free. EPA has information to help tribes considering a changeout campaign.

Training Resources

ITEP works in collaboration with tribes and EPA.

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