FARMINGTON — Navajo leaders plan to meet with energy experts on Monday to discuss alternatives to coal-heated homes during a day-long conference at Din College on Monday.

Since a 2010 U.S. Geological Survey report indicated that the home-heating method is a health risk, locals have discussed how they might find solutions to the problem.

The meeting will be open to the public and last from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the large conference room on the Shiprock North Campus. It will feature presentations by professors and analysts from around the nation.

The conference is part of the Shiprock In-Home Stove Coal Use Project, which is funded by a $45,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant. The aim is to fast-forward a long-overdue effort.

"The Navajo Nation talks about it, but it doesn't take it seriously," said Perry Charley, manager of the Din Environmental Institute based at Din College.

The conference Monday is expected to give the community an idea of what is feasible for them, and perhaps what is not feasible Êconsidering the limited funding and resources of the Navajo Nation.

Speakers will include members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo Nation EPA, and Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.

Also speaking will be scholars from various universities invested in new and developing energy alternatives.

The University of Colorado's Lupita Montoya will be speaking about solar energy, Mansel Nelson of Northern Arizona University will speak about indoor air quality and how it is affected by various methods of heating, and Tony Ward of the University of Montana will speak about the "Nez Perce Wood Stove Study and Change Out Project."

"It all boils down to health and economics," Ward said, noting that the project he worked on focused on encouraging his community to switch from out-of-date wood stoves to more efficient, high-quality ones.

Many communities relying on such stoves have issues with affording the new technology, but it helps if the local, state, or federal government can provide incentives, he said.

"You need to do something different," Ward said.

Coal has long been the choice for heating in Navajo homes, one that has taken a toll on their health inside and outside.

The air quality both in their homes, and in their general areas, was found to be poor in the 2010 report and is thought to have contributed to the elevated number of children and adults with respiratory issues.

For more information about the conference Monday, contact Charley at 505-368-3514 or phcharley@dinecollege.edu, or Joni Nofchissey, Din College environmental technician, at 505-368-3515 or jnofchissey@dinecollege.edu.