The Natural Resources Department of the Wampanoag Tribe monitors the air and water quality on Martha’s Vineyard for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Particulate Monitor 2.5 Improve Speciation unit air module
Air Monitor Housing

The laboratory serves as the center for a variety of air quality programs. The Natural Resources Department provides particulate matter and ozone testing on Tribal lands, and the data is shared with the state and United States Environmental Protection Agency. The site on Tribal lands has become an important monitoring site because we are removed from large industry here on Martha’s Vineyard. The data captured is used for environmental studies, which focus on the bioaccumulation of heavy metals transported through air deposition, to the Membership by eating fish and shellfish. The air program, through a Direct Implementation grant, continuously monitors ground-level ozone, a lung irritant, and also particulate matter (PM2.5), fine particles that can cause a variety of short- and long-term effects.

Particulate Monitor 2.5 Improve Speciation unit air module
Particulate Monitor 2.5 Improve Speciation unit air module

In addition the Tribe is analyzing the contribution of “deposition”, that is, the air pollution that arrives here from elsewhere. As fish and shellfish are important to Tribal members, both culturally and economically, the NRD also has conducted studies of fish tissue to assess the impact of airborne pollution on Tribal sustenance foods. As Aquinnah has few sources of air pollution, both the air monitors and deposition and fish tissue analyses have helped EPA better understand the transport of air pollutants.

Air quality is important as well, and the Tribe has secured funding to install solar panels at the Tribal Administration building to reduce reliance on polluting sources of energy.

In addition, several clean-ups of both beaches and Tribal Lands have been conducted by Department staff.

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