EPA Superfund Site Study Evaluates Mercury Exposure At Turtle River, Brunswick, GA

March 11, 1997

Former employees and retirees of Allied/LCP Chemical Plant in Brunswick, Georgia, are being recruited for a study of mercury exposure funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a federal agency concerned with the health of people exposed to toxic substances in the environment and the workplace.

The study comes in response to community concern about possible long-term health effects to former workers of the plant from exposure to chemicals used in the chloralkali production process. Plant operations ceased in 1994, when the state of Georgia revoked wastewater and air quality permits. The 550-acre plant site, located next to the Turtle River, was added in 1995 to the Environmental Protection Agency's list of Superfund hazardous waste sites and, prior to clean-up beginning, was probably the most contaminated site in Georgia and one of the worst in the nation.

In the current investigation, environmental health researchers from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and University of Georgia are collaborating with Glynn County Health Department to evaluate carefully the possible health consequences of mercury exposure such as neurologic and kidney toxicity. The Glynn County Health Department is coordinating recruitment activities, while the actual study and collection of health and exposure data will be carried our by researchers from Emory and UGA.

Beginning in May, the team will conduct extensive medical tests on former LCP employees and will compare findings with results of the same tests conducted on a group of Glynn County volunteers who did not work at LCP and were presumably unexposed to mercury. These comparison group volunteers will be recruited from employers who have agreed to participate, including Jekyll Island Authority, Interstate Paper Corporation in Riceboro, and Glynn County.

"Because both groups are important for this study to be valid, we encourage both former LCP workers and employees and retirees of the participating companies to enroll," says Principal Investigator Howard Frumkin, M.D., Dr.Ph., chairman of Environmental and Occupational Health at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. Members of these target groups are encouraged to call immediately to volunteer.

Study participation will involve three visits during May and early summer to Glynn County Health Department local testing facilities.

During the first two visits, researchers will collect blood and urine samples to evaluate mercury exposure. In June and July, study participants will visit the Health Department's local testing facility for their third and last series of tests. These tests will evaluate aspects of neurologic functioning such as coordination, concentration, attention, memory, body sway and strength.

"In addition to receiving free, sophisticated medical testing, study participants will also be contributing to the body of medical knowledge on the health effects of mercury exposure," says B. Brooks Taylor, M.D., M.P.H., health director of Glynn County Health Department and a member of the research team. "Participants will have access to test results and may request results also be shared with their personal physicians. Otherwise, all test results and participation will be held in strict confidence, Dr. Taylor says. Participants also will receive a stipend at the conclusion of the study.

Scientific aims of the study include better characterization of how long-term exposure to mercury adversely affects the nervous system, kidney function and the reproductive system.

"We hope this study will also serve as a model of responsive collaboration among a community, a local health department, a state health department and research universities," Dr. Frumkin says.

Recruitment of former workers has begun and will continue through March 14. Information meetings will be held during the first week of march. Residents are encouraged to contact or provide information on former workers of the plant who no longer live in the local area and might not be award of the study.

For more information, call Marsha Pierce at the Glynn County Health Department, (912) 264-3961.


Emory University Health Sciences Center

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.