The rise of the Atomic Age in the 1940s carried with it the promises of new energy and economic frontiers. It built towns in the Southwest and provided jobs.
And then, the industry packed up and left, though it left much of itself behind in the form toxic waste and economically exhaled towns.
It’s in the industry’s remains that Doug Brugge, a professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University, toils. He’s done oral histories on mining’s impacts on the Navajo Nation and has followed that work up with studies on the heath impacts of uranium mining and the ethical issues in researching the problem. In a sense, he’s an expert in devastation.
“The majority of the studies I have read suggest that there are health problems with exposure,” he said. “It points toward concern rather than away from it.”
Brugge is in town this week to discuss the issue in a talk titled “Dirty Secrets: the Health Effects of Uranium Mining — New Research.”