267506 Methylmercury risk awareness, fish consumption, and actual exposure of childbearing age women: A reservation-based community-academic partnership

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 5:10 PM - 5:30 PM

Sandra Kuntz, PhD, PHCNS-BC, RN , College of Nursing, Montana State University, Missoula, MT, MT
Tomina Kinzie, RN, BSN , Chief Redstone Indian Health Service Clinic, Wolf Point, MT
Background: Actual exposure to methylmercury, awareness of fish advisory messages, and risk communication preferences in American Indian women of childbearing age is unknown for populations living on reservations near inland Northwest waterways. The primary aims of this study were to develop a community-academic partnership and gather and analyze fish consumption, risk awareness, and actual exposure data. Methods: This cross-sectional descriptive study utilized a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach by engaging community members including a group of tribal elders who contributed a historical/cultural perspective to the research. Childbearing age women (n=200) were recruited to the study. An electronic consumption and awareness survey was administered and hair samples were examined for total mercury using a Direct Mercury Analyzer and EPA method 7473. Results: Among the participants, over half (59%) reported they ate just one fish meal per month, 34% reported 2-4 fish meals, and 7% reported 5-8 meals per month. Of the group, 78% were unaware of tribal advisories or fish consumption guidelines. Most of the women (83%) rated their knowledge of mercury contamination of fish as “very little” or “none.” In contrast, 73% were also unaware of the USDA healthy fish intake guidelines. Hair sample results (190/200 surveyed) indicate low level total mercury exposure ranging from <0.0001 to 0.2502 ppm (action level for MeHg is 1 ppm or 1µg/g). Conclusions: Methylmercury exposure was not detected; advisory and healthy fish consumption guideline awareness is low among American Indian women living on this inland reservation.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Describe advisory awareness, fish consumption, and actual exposure of women living on a reservation adjacent to a major inland waterway. Identify components of the community-academic research partnership.

Keywords: American Indians, Environmental Health Hazards

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified because I conduct research on environmental health including methylmercury risk and exposure in human populations, health disparities, and community-based participatory approaches in rural and Native American communities. I am also a member of the US Environmental Health Protection Agency, Child Health Protection Advisory Committee.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.