FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Fishing and Swimming on Kalamazoo River Impacted by Oil Spill Not Harmful to Health

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Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2013

CONTACT: Angela Minicuci, (517) 241-2112, minicucia@michigan.gov

Fishing and Swimming on Kalamazoo River Impacted by Oil Spill Not Harmful to Health

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has released the Public Health Assessment evaluating chemicals in surface water and fish from along the stretch of the Kalamazoo River impacted by the July 2010 oil spill in Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties.

MDCH has concluded that no long-term harm to people’s health is expected from contact with chemicals in the surface water during recreational activities, such as wading, swimming, or canoeing. However, contact with oil sheen and globules in the river may cause temporary effects, such as skin irritation.

Fish from the Kalamazoo River and Morrow Lake were tested for oil-related chemicals, as well as chemicals that were previously found in fish there. Fish from areas impacted by the oil spill, including Ceresco Impoundment and Morrow Lake, had similar levels of oil-related chemicals as fish caught in Marshall Pond (upstream of the spill). All oil-related chemical levels were very low. Mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels were similar to levels measured in fish caught before the oil spill.

Guidelines for eating fish from these areas, issued by MDCH before the oil spill, remain in place. Current guidelines about eating fish caught in Michigan bodies of water can be found at www.michigan.gov/eatsafefish.

MDCH invites the public to read the Public Health Assessment available at: http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,4612,7-132-54783_54784_56159-263152--,00.html.
Copies also are available at the following locations:

  • Marshall District Library, located at 124 W. Green St. in Marshall
  • Willard Library, located at 7 W. Van Buren St. in Battle Creek
  • Galesburg Memorial Library, located at 188 E. Michigan Ave. in Galesburg

Information and comments may be sent to Dr. Jennifer Gray, Division of Environmental Health, Michigan Department of Community Health, 201 Townsend St., Lansing, MI, 48913. Comments on the Public Health Assessment must be received by November 14, 2013. Responses to all comments will be provided in the final version of the assessment.

The MDCH's Division of Environmental Health conducted this Public Health Assessment as part of a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Information concerning the human health effects of exposure to environmental contaminants can be found online at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp.

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