Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Minnesota Department of Health Grant To Reduce Mercury Exposure From Fish

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $1.4 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to reduce mercury exposure risk for women and children who live along Lake Superior’s north shore. Excessive blood mercury levels have been documented in infants in this area. The funding will be used to improve health screening and to develop more effective fish consumption advisories. Over the last three years, the GLRI has provided more than $320 million to clean up toxic contamination in Great Lakes Areas of Concern and to reduce the risks associated with toxic substances in the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The Grand Portage Chippewa Tribe and the Sawtooth Mountain Clinics in Grand Portage and Grand Marais, Minnesota will participate in the MDH project. Physicians affiliated with the clinics will survey consenting female patients of childbearing age about fish consumption and test blood mercury levels. Patients will also be counseled to promote safe fish consumption choices.

The work supported by the grant will build on an earlier EPA-funded study which was completed last year by MDH. In that study, 1,465 newborns in the Lake Superior Basin were tested for mercury in their blood. The study found that 8 % of the infants had mercury levels higher than those recommended as safe by EPA.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.
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