Tó’Łítso, the Water is Yellow: Investigating short-term exposure and risk perception of Navajo communities to the Gold King Mine toxic spill

Research Team

Community Partners

Perry H. Charley
Uranium Education Program, Diné College

Mae-Gilen Begay
Navajo Nation Community Health Representative

Duane 'Chili' Yazzie
Shiprock Chapter President



Karletta Chief PhD
Associate Professor & Extension Specialist, SWES


Paloma Beamer PhD
Associate Professor, CEP



Jani Ingram PhD
Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry


Manley A. Begay, Jr. EdD
Professor, Applied Indigenous Studies Department


Nicolette Teufel-Shone PhD
Associate Director, Center for Health Equity Research


In August 2015, an estimated 3 million gallons of acid water and heavy metals spilled from the Gold King Mine into Colorado's Animas River, eventually flowing into the San Juan River, the primary source of irrigation for Navajo Nation farmers. The spill was accidentally caused by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency while trying to prevent leakage of toxic materials.

Chief, a Navajo hydrologist and assistant professor in the UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, and Beamer, an associate professor of environmental health sciences, lead a cross-disciplinary team with plans to address tribal questions regarding the impact of the environmental disaster on their communities.

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