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NLM Tox Town Web Site Adds US Southwest Neighborhood

Developed with Navajo Nation's Diné College, Resource Identifies Possible Toxic Hotspots in the Region

Why shouldn't I drink water from a well in rural New Mexico? What is fracking and can it pose harm to the environment? What are uranium tailings and how can they affect my health?

The answers to these and many other environmentally-themed questions can be found in the new US Southwest scene (http://www.toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/flash/southwest/flash.php), that is now part of the landscape of Tox Town (http://www.toxtown.nlm.nih.gov). Tox Town was produced by the Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) at the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health. Launched in 2006, Tox Town presents information about commonly-encountered toxic substances and their possible health risks. Using cartoon-like illustrations, animation and sound effects, Tox Town points users to everyday locations where they might discover these chemicals. The site also points out possible broader environmental consequences associated with hazards in the varied Tox Town settings, which include a city, a town, a farm and a port, as well as US border regions. The contents of this consumer-friendly site come from trusted resources of the US government and appear in English and en español.

The US Southwest is a region defined in different ways by different sources, but the "Four Corners" states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah) are considered to be its core. Broader definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, adding California, Nevada and Oklahoma.

Tox Town's US Southwest Neighborhood was developed in conjunction with Diné College (http://www.dinecollege.edu/), a tribal college for the Navajo Nation. (The Navajo Nation includes much of the Four Corners area, extending into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.)  Diné has eight campuses on the reservation, in Arizona and New Mexico. The College is a member of NLM's Environmental Health Information Partnership (EnHIP) (http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/outreach/enhip.html), which includes several other tribal colleges, Hispanic Serving Educational Institutions, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  EnHIP's goal is to enhance the capacity of minority serving academic institutions to reduce health disparities through the access, use and delivery of environmental health information on their campuses and in their communities.  As part of this program, NLM provides modest funding to support relevant information-related projects. Diné College undertook the challenge of helping NLM create a scene for Tox Town that reflected their own community. This would make it easier for the students and others living on the reservation, as well as others living in the Southwest region, to learn more about environmental concerns with which they are dealing, unique to their part of the country.

New Tox Town locations found in this scene include:

  • Abandoned Mines
  • Coal-Fired Power Plants
  • Dust Storms
  • Hydraulic Fracturing
  • Irrigation Canals and Ditches
  • Oil and Gas Fields
  • Sheep Ranching
  • Uranium Tailings
  • Water Wells
  • Windmills

Regardless of where they live, users will definitely want to visit this new neighborhood and learn about possible environmental health risks in the US Southwest.

 

 Image of SW Neighborhood

 The US Southwest Neighborhood, Tox Town

 

 

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