The History of Uranium Mining and the Navajo People

Doug Brugge, PhD, MS, and Rob Goble, PhD

From World War II until 1971, the government was the sole purchaser of uranium ore in the United States. Uranium mining occurred mostly in the southwestern United States
and drew many Native Americans and others into work in the mines and mills. Despite a long and well-developed understanding,based on the European experience earlier in
the century, that uranium mining led to high rates of lung cancer, few protections were provided for US miners before 1962 and their adoption after that time was slow and incomplete.
The resulting high rates of illness among miners led in 1990 to passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation

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