Drinking Water & Sanitation

Traditional Lifeways: Drinking Water and Sanitation

Environmental Health in Rural Communities: Drinking Water and Sanitation for K-12 focuses on the importance of clean drinking water, safe housing and sanitation for rural Alaska. The eight lessons and 50 activities examine environmental problems in the community and how they impact human health. With a better understanding of the issues involved village members can ensure a healthy environment for future generations.

Lesson One teaches about the sources of water (groundwater and surface water), and the types of water delivery systems (washeterias, septic tanks and wells, piped systems and tank water systems), what diseases are spread by unclean drinking water, symptoms, treatment and method of prevention. Lessons Two and Three cover possible contaminates in drinking water, how to disinfect water sources, sample water, and how to interpret test results.

The disposal of human waste, handling of toxic materials, sewage lagoons and the health risks associated with raw waste are discussed in Lesson Four. Because many areas of the state are subject to flooding and the possibility of bacterial or/and fuel contamination in the drinking water, Lesson Five teaches how to insure safe sanitation during and after a flood.

Housing in rural Alaska and the environmental problems associated with it, such as, wood smoke, mold and radon are the subjects of Lessons Six, Seven and Eight. The activities for these three lessons explore the history and types of housing in the area, and uses the newsletters of the IRHA to learn about the work the Regional Housing Authority in rural Alaska. Several activities focus on the health problems arising from the burning of wood. Students are to survey their homes and communities for mold and to how to safety clean up the mold. Radon in the home and school, its effect on health and what can do done about it are also covered in other activities.

The curriculum offers extensive resource materials and accurate pictures which aid in understanding the health risks involved in rural communities and what steps can be taken to ensure a healthy future for the community. This place-based curriculum meets the Alaska State Standards for Science and Math and the Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools.

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