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MDCH Releases Final Public Health Assessment About Contact with Submerged Oil in the Kalamazoo River

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2012

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has released the final Public Health Assessment evaluating contact with the oil remaining at the bottom of the Kalamazoo River as a result of the July 2010 oil spill. This assessment includes comments received during the public comment period, Aug. 18 to Oct. 18, and MDCH responses.

MDCH has concluded that contact with the submerged oil will not cause long-term health effects or a higher than normal risk of cancer. At the same time, contact with the submerged oil may cause temporary effects, such as skin irritation.

The stretch of river addressed in the assessment extends from Talmadge Creek in Marshall to Morrow Lake in Comstock Township. The assessment does not alter current restrictions the Calhoun County Public Health Department and the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department have in place regarding use of the river.

This Public Health Assessment only addresses direct contact with the submerged oil. It does not evaluate breathing in chemicals from the remaining oil or any public safety concerns posed by the on-going cleanup of oil in the river. Public Health Assessments addressing drinking water and air quality will be released in the future.

MDCH invites the public to read the final Public Health Assessment at www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/Enbridge_Sediment__BLUE_FINAL_5-23-2012_387874_7.pdf. Copies also are available at the following locations:

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

The department'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 on the ATSDR web page: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp.

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