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MN Dept. of Health looking at fish consumption and childbearing

MDH_Deborah_Durkin_repackage_20120926.mp36.15 MB
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is headed back to Grand Marais and Grand Portage to conduct two focus groups with women of childbearing age.  During the two hour sessions, women will be asked to look at the guidelines for fish consumption currently in use by Minnesota and other Great Lakes states, and to offer feedback on their effectiveness.  The goal is to make that guidance better.  
The October 9 Grand Marais focus group has been filled, however, participants are still being sought for the October 8 session at Grand Portage.  

As before, participants must be 18 years or older, be of childbearing age, and must eat some Minnesota-caught fish. For focus group data to be valid, only one person from a household or two from a family group may be included (e.g., a sister-in-law would be fine). Compensation: $25.00 Visa gift card.  Child care and a light supper will be provided.
Time is short.  If you would like to participate in the Grand Portage focus group, please call or email Deborah Durkin at the Minnesota Department of Health;, 651-201-4901.
Monday, October 8, 2012, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. 
Where:  Log Community Building, Grand Portage

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 in Grand Marais 
Location: First Congregational Church, Grand Marais

Time: 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. (but come a little early to get settled)

(*Click on the audio mp3 above to hear a WTIP interview with Deborah Durkin of the Minnesota Department of Health.)

The “Mercury in Newborns in the Lake Superior Basin” study was conducted by the MDH Environmental Health Division from 2007 to 2011, in collaboration with state newborn screening programs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It was primarily funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Most infants were found to have low or undetected total mercury levels. However, 8% of tested newborns had mercury levels above the safe dose limit for methylmercury (the form of mercury found in fish) set by U.S. EPA. This means that some pregnant women in the Lake Superior region have mercury exposures that need to be reduced. Babies born during the summer months were more likely to have an elevated mercury level.  This seasonal effect suggests that increased consumption of locally caught fish during the warm months is an important source of pregnant women’s mercury exposure in this region. No Michigan samples were above the U.S. EPA dose limit, 3% of the Wisconsin samples were above, but 10% of the Minnesota samples had elevated levels of mercury. One possible explanation for this higher level is that Minnesotans have reported eating more locally-caught fish than do people in Wisconsin or Michigan. 
(The above photo is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. For more information, see the Fish and Wildlife Service copyright policy.)