Zender Environmental Health & Research Group is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Arctic and Remote Community Research
We pride ourselves on continually seeking ways to better address isolated community environmental health issues. We are privileged to work with tribes and indigenous communities throughout Alaska and beyond in waste management issues.
Our work allows us to identify rural community environmental program issues from a scientific lens at the regional, statewide, and international level.
Through our technical assistance and training, job training, and various regional and statewide programs such as Backhaul Alaska, we work with 50 to nearly 100 different communities each year, the vast bulk of which are isolated Alaska Native Villages off the road system. That work involves intimate and extended communications on all aspects of the local environmental program, and the complex web of issues to which it is related. Because we work with communities until they are ready for it to stop or pause, or staff have community relationships that go back over a decade or more. It allows us not only a unique position to learn from and assist communities through exchanging local village-based lessons and solutions, it allows to identify rural community environmental program issues from a scientific lens at the regional, statewide, and international level.
When we identify a common roadblock to community program improvement, we seek to understand and share it and its potential solutions through collaborative research projects and initiative white papers. While we do not conduct research for research’ sake, we will work with any one and any entity on any idea with promise for an affordable waste program or system offering ecological and/or human health improvement.
In this ‘time immemorial’ context, the solution communities seek is there now. At Zender, we believe in community and we believe we can play a role in its uncovering.
Small, rural, and isolated communities face overwhelming challenges related to climate change, sociocultural upheaval, economic stress, and multiple health disparities. Unfortunately, waste management is yet another challenge piled on, and its unique technical, infrastructural, jurisdictional, and economical burden is difficult to unpack so to better adjust the load. We believe the solution(s) does exist — or will soon –because the communities we work with possess a core deep environmental knowledge, how it works, and what will work in it, and they will continue to persist regardless of any circumstance, past, present, or future. In this ‘time immemorial’ context, the solution communities seek is there now. At Zender, we believe in community and we believe we can play a role in its uncovering.
Partial List of Workgroups and Projects
We collaborate with a number of entities in conducting research and projects, as well as produce our own white papers and work. Below is a partial list of workgroups and projects.
Selected Reports, White Papers, and Literature
Arctic Council, Best Waste Management Practices for Small and Remote Arctic Communities. A study of best waste management practices used in remote Arctic communities in Alaska, Canada, and Finland Interim Project Report January 5, 2019. Produced for Aleut International Association and The Government of Canada)
Conditions, Risks, and Contributing Factors of Solid Waste Management in Alaska Native Villages: A Discussion with Case Study
White Paper – The Relationship between Alaska’s Class III Landfill Status and the USEPA Guidance on the Award and Management of General Assistance Agreements for Tribes and Intertribal Consortia and its Potential Impact on Remote Alaska Native Tribes and Communities
Role of Landfill Roads in Alaska Village Health: Addressing Health Risks Related to Waste Disposal Sites in Rural and Isolated Alaska Native Villages: The role that source-resident distance plays1 Landfill roads paper, 2005
Solid Waste Management on Indian Reservations: Limitations of Conventional Solid Waste Management Engineering, Lynn Zender, Dissertation: University of California, Davis 1999
Compost Toilets as an Alternative to the Honeybucket in a Rural Alaska Native Village, Simone Sebalo, Masters Thesis, University of California, Davis 2008
Left Out in the Cold: Solid Waste Management and the Risks to Resident Health in Native Village Alaska, 2003
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Statewide Integrated Waste Management Plan Assessment Report, Developed by Zender Environmental, 2007
A Community-Based Application Of Software To Conduct A Probabilistic Assessment Of Exposure To Contaminants In Indigenous Subsistence Foods. Chaisson A, C. Franklin C.,L. Zender, C. Chaisson, R. Sheldon, and J. Foran, Environmental Justice, Vol. 5, No. 6, 306-311, Dec 2012.