Reducing Risks of the Anishinaabe from Methylmercury

EPA Grant Number: R831047
Title: Reducing Risks of the Anishinaabe from Methylmercury
Investigators: Foran, Jeffery , Riley, Kirk , Groetsch, Kory , Kmiecik, Neil
Current Investigators: Kmiecik, Neil , Foran, Jeffery
Institution: Midwest Center for Environmental Science and Policy , Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission , Michigan State University , University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Current Institution: Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2006 (Extended to October 31, 2007)
Project Amount: $445,830
RFA: Lifestyle and Cultural Practices of Tribal Populations and Risks from Toxic Substances in the Environment (2002) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Climate Change , Tribal Environmental Health Research , Human Health , Safer Chemicals


The purpose of this study is to develop, implement, evaluate and document a comprehensive, systematic and culturally-sensitive intervention program to reduce risks associated with subsistence based consumption of methylmercury contaminated fish. This study will be built upon the U.S. EPA and the National Academy of Sciences evaluations of the toxicology of methylmercury. This study will revise GLIFWC's GIS-based fish advisory methodology to comply with the U.S. EPA risk-based fish consumption guidance while not significantly compromising Anishinaabe culture. Secondly, develop connections to social-tribal networks and systematically train health care providers, tribal fish harvesters, elders, and youth in the use of the GIS-based fish advisory. Third, this study will implement the GIS-based intervention program through the established networks to reach mothers with young children, women of childbearing age, pregnant mothers, breastfeeding mothers and children under the age of 15. Fourth, this study will evaluate and document the efficacy of the GIS-based intervention program by measuring the change in knowledge and behaviors of targeted populations (i.e., mothers and children) as well as educators of those populations (i.e., health care providers, elders, tribal harvesters) before and after implementation.


The methods that will be used in this project are based on standard methods for human exposure and risk assessment developed and endorsed by the U.S. EPA and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Methods to develop and communicate advice for fish consumption are based on the published methods of the U.S. EPA (Guidance for assessing chemical contaminant data for use in fish advisories. Volume 2. Risk assessment and fish consumption limits, 3rd edition. US EPA, Washington, D.C. (2000)). ArcView GIS software will be used to combine U.S. EPA guidance, mercury concentration in fish tissue, and lakes harvested by tribes to produce color-coded fish contaminant advisory maps. The efficacy of a program using these color-coded maps to change behavior to reduce methylmercury exposure while retaining tribal cultural integrity will be assessed using quantitative, scientifically rigorous assessment techniques.

Expected Results:

This study will produce a unique risk management approach that will involve a GIS-based, culturally-sensitive risk intervention program for highly exposed populations and will include a scientifically rigorous, user-friendly fish consumption advisory. This program is intended to allow tribal members the ability to continue to consume fish in their normal amounts while reducing their methylmercury exposures to safe levels. The results of this study will be reported in peer-reviewed literature, thus allowing the transfer of this novel intervention program to other highly-exposed populations.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 53 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 3 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

risk management strategies, uncertainty reduction, models, U.S. EPA risk-based methodology, tribal health, developmental neurotoxin, Ojibwe, Chippewa, high fish consumption, environmental chemical contaminants, Great Lakes region, human health, culturally appropriate, high risk, environmental impacts, transferable, information development, information dissemination, hazardous substances, traditional foods, subsistence, treaty fish., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Water, HUMAN HEALTH, Genetics, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Exposure, Risk Assessments, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Physical Processes, genetic susceptability, Mercury, Risk Assessment, human consumption, health risks, GIS-based model, genetic predisposition, Anishinaabe, fish consumption, Human Health Risk Assessment, human exposure, methylmercury, native americans, cultural practices, culturally sensitive, dietary exposure, fish-borne toxicants

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004 Progress Report
  • 2005
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007
  • Final Report