The Bulletin

Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe to begin air quality monitoring

By: - November 10, 2022 11:01 pm

The tribal pavilion in Adamstown, King William County. (Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe)

Virginia’s Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe is receiving some help from the federal government to assess air quality.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe $449,988 to conduct community air pollution monitoring.

The tribe will train tribal citizens in air quality knowledge and skills, develop a community advisory board and install and maintain an air quality monitoring station. Work will be done in partnership with Virginia Tech, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and George Mason University 

Air quality monitoring is “a pretty new area for the tribe to participate in,” said Upper Mattaponi Environmental and Cultural Protection Director Leigh Mitchell, but members identified it as a top priority.

The Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe is located in King William County at the top of the Middle Peninsula. The community is subject to air contaminants from nearby Superfund sites – areas considered by the federal government to have the worst pollution in the country — hazardous waste sites, active mining operations and busy highways, Mitchell said.

Consequently, while the tribe knows it is likely exposed to pollutants including particulate matter, formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide, the project will allow it to determine the level of exposure and better understand the health impacts members are experiencing.

“Having that information will very much help our ability to inform our decision making and priorities,” Mitchell said.

The Upper Mattaponi initiative is one of 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states that is receiving $53.4 million from the Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan Act.

The full list of awardees can be found here.

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Charlie Paullin
Charlie Paullin

Charles Paullin covers energy and environment for the Mercury. He previously worked for Northern Virginia Daily in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and for the New Britain Herald in central Connecticut. An Alexandria native, Charles graduated from the University of Hartford initially wanting to cover sports. He's received several Virginia Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, local government and state politics. Catch him in nature experiencing all the outdoors has to offer, and contact him at [email protected]

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