Will Receive $5 Million to Study Effects of Exposure to Toxicants in
by Jim Barlow, UI
The College of
Veterinary Medicine is home to a new federally funded center that will
study the effects of exposure to toxicants in fish being eaten in large
quantities by Laotian and Hmong refugees in Green Bay and Appleton,
Susan Schantz, professor of veterinary biosciences and of psychology,
will direct researchers from five institutions in the center's work,
which will include developing outreach programs to help the refugees
reduce their consumption of the fish contaminated with polychlorinated
biphenyls and methyl mercury.
will build on several already established research collaborations and
will be organized around refugees we have been recruiting in this area,"
says Dr. Schantz. "A large percentage of these refugee families
is at high risk for PCB exposure. While methyl mercury levels are not
as high, we want to know if methyl mercury exposure has adverse health
ramifications, either separately or in combination with PCBs."
She says that members of the refugee groups have been involved in the
design of the study and will have continuing roles.
The FRIENDS Children's
Environmental Health Center was among four new children's environmental
health research centers announced October 25. They were established
under a joint program of the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency. The centers each will
receive about $1 million per year for the next five years.
for Fox River Environment and Diet Study. The Fox River, which cuts
through Green Bay, Wis., is the single largest source of PCBs entering
be looking specifically at the effect of eating contaminated fish on
the motor, sensory, and mental development of the refugees' children.
They also will study, in laboratory rodents, the mechanisms by which
the pollutants cause neurological harm. (See Heavy
consumption of tainted fish curbs adult learning and memory for
more on recent research findings of Dr. Schantz.)
In addition to
studying the health impact of chemicals in the fish, researchers will
be educating the communities about safe fishing locations, which species
of fish are safe to eat, and preparation and cooking methods to limit
exposure to the toxicants.
The center also
will involve researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Michigan
State University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the New
York State Department of Health, and the University of Texas Health
Science Center at Houston.