Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tribal-FERST, and how can I use it?

  • Tribal-FERST (Tribal-Focused Environmental Risk and Sustainability Tool) is an online tool initially developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).   The EPA wanted to continue enhancing the tool for Tribal Nations, thus decided it would be best for the United South and Eastern Tribes Inc. (USET), to continue growing the tool with direction from Tribal Nations since USET is a Tribally lead organization. Tribal-FERST provides access to resources that can be used to assist Tribal Nations in learning more about the environmental issues affecting them, gather information, and review potential solutions to enhance the health and safety of each Tribal Nation. There are several components to Tribal-FERST that allow users to:
    • View maps of a Tribal Nation community‚Äôs environment including specific data on air quality, water quality, and impacted homeland soils or sites within the homeland that are impacted by pollution.
    • Compare Tribal Nation community environmental conditions surrounding air, water, and soils.
    • Gather information about environmental conditions at the Tribal Nations
    • Explore solutions and community strategies to understand or address environmental conditions
    • Use the Tribal-FERST and other community assessment guides to interpret data and use it to implement decisions
    • Share Environmental stories and solutions via Tribal Nation case studies for Tribal Nations to present their learning experiences and provide solutions for other Tribal Nation facing similar challenges

Who can or should use Tribal-FERST?

  • Tribal-FERST users include:
    • Tribal Nation environmental professionals
    • Tribal Nation and federal risk assessors
    • Tribal Nation citizens with an interest in Tribal Nation community environmental public health
    • Tribal colleges and universities serving Tribal Nations to enhance the environment for Tribal Nations
    • EPA community involvement coordinators
    • Environmental justice coordinators working on local-scale issues

Tribal Nation community groups, or citizens of Tribal Nations and these professionals, are able to use resources on the Tribal FERST webpage to work together to identify and evaluate issues and interpret data and results. Some technical experience in viewing and interpreting Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping software will be helpful during use of some portions of the site, but is not necessary to make use of all resources available.  

Please contact us to let us know how you have used Tribal-FERST or how you think you might use it in the future. In addition, please provide your recommendations for additional information sources (with links, if available), data and map layers, or features that would make Tribal-FERST more useful in meeting Tribal Specific needs. Feedback from the user community will increase our understanding about how Tribal-FERST data and tools benefit individuals and communities and will help guide the development of future versions and relevant new tools and data. 

Tribal-FERST is a screening tool, and should not be used as the sole basis for making decisions about public health or the environment.

Do I need any special expertise or special software to use Tribal-FERST?

Tribal-FERST is available to anybody with a computer and an internet connection. No special software is needed, however high-speed internet access is recommended for best performance of the tool. When using Tribal-FERST Maps we recommend using the latest versions of the suggested browsers listed on the ArcGIS Online website. Community groups or members of the public and environmental health professionals, experienced risk assessors, EPA community project leads, and local academic institutions may benefit from working together to identify and learn more about various communities, identify and explore environmental issues that these communities are facing, and interpret Tribal-FERST data and results. The link below can be used to find the suggested browsers from the ArcGIS Online website, and answer other ArcGIS specific questions: 

What kind of data and information is included in Tribal-FERST? What is not included?

Tribal-FERST primarily relies on nationally available monitoring and modeling data. Since air pollution monitoring data and models are routinely developed at a national level, these data are more complete in Tribal-FERST than data and models for pollutants that may be found in water and soil. Tribal-FERST does not currently contain local-scale health outcome information. See the Tribal-FERST Limitations page for more information. The following data can be found within the Tribal FERST site:

Where else can I look for reservation environmental health information and data?

Other EPA tools such as EJSCREEN, EnviroAtlas, and NEPAssist can provide additional environmental information. Other federal agencies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Geological Survey also have data, tools and information related to health and environmental issues on Tribal homelands. Tribal Nation public health and environmental agencies, universities and research institutions may also be valuable sources of local data. Sites to collect further information can be found below: 

Can Tribal-FERST be used as the basis for making regulatory or public health decisions?

No. Tribal-FERST is intended to provide screening-level information only to help users learn about community environmental health issues. It does not re-calculate risk values and is not intended to be the sole basis for any public health decision.

Does Tribal-FERST calculate cumulative risk or impacts?

Although Tribal-FERST offers multimedia environmental data and demographic data, it does not add together or otherwise calculate cumulative risks for different environmental exposures. Tribal-FERST does provide access to estimated cumulative cancer and non-cancer risks from exposure to hazardous outdoor air pollutants, as calculated by the 2014 National Air Toxics Assessment. Tribal-FERST also includes information about population characteristics, so users can explore where environmental sources and higher environmental concentrations are located in relation to communities. This information in Tribal-FERST might help users to identify issues and explore these further, but Tribal-FERST does not calculate cumulative risk or impacts. Follow the link below to the 2014 National Air and Toxics Assessment that was made publicly available by EPA in 2018.

Who can I contact with questions or feedback on Tribal-FERST?

Your feedback is very important to us and will help us improve and expand Tribal-FERST. Feedback from the Tribal Nation community will increase our understanding about how Tribal-FERST data and tools benefit Tribal Nation citizens and communities to help guide the development of future versions for the website and relevant new tools and data.  You can also send an email by visiting the contact us page, to provide comments, questions, or suggestions.