The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is proposing a "biomonitoring" pilot project in the South Minneapolis Arsenic Contamination Site. Biomonitoring basically means measuring the amount of a chemical in people's bodies to determine how much exposure to that chemical they have had. It's a good way to determine exposure to a chemical because it indicates the amount of the chemical that actaually gets into people, rather than the amount that could potentially get into them.
By statute, the scope of the pilot project is to measure arsenic levels in 100 people. MDH is proposing to measure arsenic in children, as they are most likely to be affected by arsenic exposure. Children will be selected by MDH based on eligibility criteria and invited to participate in the pilot project. With their caregivers’ informed consent, these children will be asked to provide a sample (such as urine or hair) so that the level of arsenic in their bodies can be measured. The measurements will probably occur in the summer of 2008.
Individuals who participate in the biomonitoring project will find out what level of arsenic is currently in their body. Caregivers of children who have elevated arsenic levels will be advised to consult a health care provider and will be given information to help them determine all of the ways children might be exposed to arsenic and to take steps to reduce the exposure in the future.
When MDH combines all of the individual participants’ results, they will be able to determine whether the community as a whole has elevated levels of arsenic compared to a published reference value.
They are still in the development stages of the project, and are planning to present their preliminary proposal for the project at a community meeting on Thursday, December 6, at 7pm at the Midtown YWCA at 2121 E Lake St.
For more information about this project, please contact Michonne Bertrand at the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-3661. To learn more about the Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring Program at the Minnesota Department of Health, visit www.heatlh.state.mn.us/divs/eh/tracking.