This incident is personal for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department. Some Department employees or relatives worked at the factory or lived in the immediate neighborhood, including our Medical Director Dr. Graham, who had a summer job there while he was in college. Like other residents of the area, these people live with uncertainty as to how their health or the health of their loved ones has been affected.One of the first things I asked when I came to the Department was what our role was in the mitigation and monitoring of the after-effects of the PBB contamination. I was saddened to learn that—although our Environmental Health unit wanted to be actively involved—there was little we could do. We had no funding for testing or counseling or any of the things a more-well-endowed Department might have done. All we could do was continue to be a witness to this tragedy. Our epidemiologist, Norm Keon continued to attend the Pine River Citizen Superfund Task Force.
It was through the Task Force that Norm met people fromThis all makes me think two things: First, even if all you can do is hang in there with your community and be a witness to its big health challenges, do it. Norm’s patience and vigilance has borne fruit after years of waiting. Second, the best possible outcome of all this would be to get a big NIEH grant, help Emory do a definitive study, and find: absolutely nothing; to have conclusive proof that the nightmare is over.
Rollins School of Public Health, including Dr. Michele Marcus. She and her
colleagues want to study the long-term health effects of PBBs. And so they are collaborating with MMDHD’s Epi
team to start a small project and go after a bigger grant from the National
Institute of Environmental Health (NIEH).
MMDHD is going to do blood draws from 20 exposed people, including MMDHD employees who were exposed. Emory will
use the analysis of those samples as data for a proposal to the NIEH for a major study, which they say has a good chance of being funded. At last,
we have something we can do to try to help our community recover. Emory University