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$3 million awarded to study health effects of eating Great Lakes fish.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has awarded $3 million for research projects to several universities and state health departments. ATSDR is part of the Public Health Service.

The grants will support ATSDR's Great Lakes Human Health Effects Research Program, according to Heraline Hicks, Ph.D., Great Lakes project manager, ATSDR, Division of Toxicology. The Federal Register published notice of this program on July 29, 1993. (58 FR 40651).

The Great Lakes Critical Programs Act of 1990 requires a report by September 1994 on the human health effects of eating fish from the Great Lakes. The act directs the Environmental Protection Agency, in consultation with ATSDR, to prepare that report.

"Congress authorized about $9 million, to be spent over three years, to support this research. In fiscal year 1992, ATSDR received $2 million to start its program and $3 million in fiscal year 1993 to continue it," Hicks said. The ATSDR's Great Lakes Human Health Effects Research Program is in its second year and has awarded 10 research grants. The research focuses on the association between eating contaminated Great Lakes' fish and short- and long-term harmful health effects.

Some of the persistent toxic substances in the Great Lakes being studied by researchers are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, alkylated lead, mirex, and methylmercury.

"About one-fifth of the fresh water in the United States comes from the Great Lakes, and they are a main source of food for many people living in the basin," notes Hicks. "These 10 grants will help show how eating contaminated fish from the Great Lakes may affect people's health."

The 10 grants funded by ATSDR include nine continuations for projects awarded in fiscal year 1992 and one new project for fiscal year 1993.

According to Hicks, the nine continuation awards focus on epidemiologic studies of high-risk populations such as pregnant women; unborn children; nursing infants of mothers who eat contaminated Great Lakes fish; Native Americans; sport anglers; and the urban poor.

Research awards have focused on these high-risk populations to further define what happens to human health when exposed to these persistently toxic substances. The research will also help to develop sensitive analytical methods to detect Great Lakes contaminants in human tissues and fluids.

The tenth award establishes a laboratory-based quality assurance/quality control program which will allow for comparison of research data across the human health studies. This direct analytical comparability will allow ATSDR to combine data from these studies into a larger database and develop a broader picture of contaminants in the Great Lakes Basin.

Grant recipients include: State University of New York at Buffalo and Oswego, Michigan State Department of Health, New York State Department of Health, University of Illinois at Chicago and Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Michigan State University (two grants), and Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services, a consortium of five state health departments.
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Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Mar 1, 1994
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