Feds agree with state wild game dioxin advisory
Kathie Marchlewski, Midland Daily News
The Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry says dioxins in the whitetailed deer and turkey that roam the Tittabawassee River flood plain pose a public health hazard. Along with the Michigan Department of Community Health, the federal agency advises that consumption of deer meat and squirrel meat from contaminated areas should be limited, and that deer liver and turkey not be eaten at all.
The information, which was detailed in a report dated April 29, has not been released to the public, MDCH staff said this morning. It was inadvertently posted on a state website Thursday, but the department is continuing a review and did not know it was there. It was not available this morning.
The report comes four years after Midland resident Diane Hebert and environmental groups under the umbrella organization Michigan Environmental Council petitioned ATSDR to conduct a public health assessment of dioxins and dioxinlike compound contamination in communities adjacent to Midland.
"That request (by environmental groups) touched off a number of things," said MDCH spokesman T.J Bucholz. In a first review after the 2001 petition, ATSDR and MDCH noted that the data needed to measure risk were not available at that time and called the area an "indeterminate public health hazard." MDCH then suggested the MDEQ begin sampling to determine dioxin levels; those samples eventually turned up levels as high as 7,300 parts per trillion.
The latest assessment on wild game is a continuation of efforts to fulfill the petitioners' request and follows a wild game advisory issued by state Departments of Agriculture, Community Health, Environmental Quality and Natural Resources last September.
It says risks associated with eating turkey and deer liver are higher than 1 in 10,000 people. It does not say how much higher. "It doesn't say, because we don't know what the additional risk is," Bucholz said.
Muscle meat should be limited, particularly by women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15.
The Dow Chemical Co., which is blamed for contamination and is working with the state on remediation, provided data on wild game to the state and federal agencies after a study conducted last year. The company has not yet been notified of the ATSDR information, said spokesman John Musser.
Dow agrees that deer liver should be avoided, he added, but not with the warning about deer and turkey meat. "The deer meat and turkey meat without skin is within the same range one might get eating a normal diet of food you might get out of the grocery store."
ATSDR disagrees with Dow's comparison, and says in the report that dioxin levels in wild game found on the flood plain are consistently higher than those found in the U.S. food supply.
©Midland Daily News 2005
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