FBC Uses Education To Fight Bacteria, Disease

Aug 15th, 2007 | By | Category: 19-1: Tribal College Students Today, Tribal College News

Fort Belknap College (FBC, Harlem, MT) faculty and students are learning about and responding to pollutants within human bodies as well as about bacterial infection, H. pylori, which has surfaced on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

Students in the college’s Allied Health program participated in a special topics workshop that focused on the rise of toxic substances found in our blood, in our homes, and in our environment.

They learned about the types of plastics in use today and the health risks associated with them. Using the code on a container or wrapper, students identified the “good plastics” (1 PETE, 2 HDPE, 4LDPE, and 5PP) and “bad plastics” (3 PVC OR V, 6PS and often 7OTHER).

They also learned about other toxic chemicals such as PBDEs, PFAs, phthalates, PCBs, bisphenols and heavy metals, which inadvertently infiltrate our bodies and can be measured in the blood. Most importantly, the students learned how to avoid many of these chemicals.

The students have presented this information on the air via the college radio station, KGVA. They also made available the Smart Plastics Guide: Healthier Food Uses of Plastics, published by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Health Program.

The college faculty is also involved in helping to educate the community to prevent a further increase in H. pylori, a bacterium implicated in more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and 80% of gastric ulcers (Centers for Disease Control, CDC).

Faculty members Dan Kinsey, Donna Young, and Bill Bell are working in collaboration with Rocky Mountain College (Billings, MT), Montana State University-Bozeman, the Indian Health Service, Fort Belknap Tribal Health Department, and other Montana tribal colleges to address this important environmental health issue.

The collaborators want to determine how people get infected with H. pylori and what they can do to prevent infection. According to the CDC, the source of H. Pylori is not yet known, but hand washing, proper food preparation, and safe drinking water is being recommended to avoid it.

They will also continue to investigate the routes of transmission and all known or newly determined prevention measures with the intent of decreasing the incidence of H. pylori in local communities. Both students and faculty are improving the health of the surrounding communities through the power of education.

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