Students and a researcher from Michigan State University have begun to study how much dioxin is in the Tittabawassee River, what kind it is and what risk it poses to wildlife.
The team of graduate and undergraduate students – under the direction of Professor John P. Giesy, Ph.D. and National Food and Safety and Toxicology Center researcher – will perform the preliminary risk assessment. The assessment is required of The Dow Chemical Co. as part of its recently issued hazardous materials operating license.
Dow granted $326,000 to NFSTC and the university for the study, which is a precursor to a larger, more comprehensive study.
"Developing and gaining DEQ approval for that study will take time, so we are jump-starting the process with a smaller assessment that will produce scientifically valid findings in a much shorter time frame," Dow officials said in a written statement.
"Dow still intends to fund an extensive ecological risk assessment along the river from Midland to the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee rivers near Greenpoint Island," the statement said.
Giesy and his team completed an initial dioxin screening of the river in 2001, with money from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
The latest effort is intended to gain an understanding of food-chain relationships that will determine if dioxin is being absorbed in wildlife.
The study will include input from the MDEQ, Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It will be used to create, if necessary, a plan for the corrective actions Dow should take to resolve potential dioxin dangers.
Research will be completed in late November and results will be reported in early 2004. Plants, insects, birds, carnivores and herbivores will be examined.
The team’s preliminary study of the distribution of dioxin in the Tittabawassee River, performed with the MDEQ, is available at www.deq.state.mi.us.