MDCH Seeks Public Comment On Grassy Island Health Consultation

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

February 14, 2007

A Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) public health consultation indicates that an island in the Detroit River currently poses no apparent health hazard, but future use of the property will determine if the property continues to remain safe.

The draft Public Health Consultation for Grassy Island-now available for public comment-found that contamination at the island currently poses no apparent public health hazard.

Grassy Island is a former diked disposal facility in the Detroit River in Wayne County near Wyandotte. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed dredged sediments from the River Rouge onto the facility. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the island as part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

Grassy Island is contaminated with metals, PCBs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It is not open to the public currently, but may be in the future. Due to minimal exposure, there is no apparent public health hazard currently.

If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service open the island to public use in the future, the Service should prevent unacceptable exposures to the soil, the consultation said. If hunting is allowed on the island, contaminant levels in resident waterfowl and game should be assessed. There are physical hazards present on the island, such as steep dike walls, that should be addressed before allowing public access. Lastly, the Service should regularly assess dike integrity.

MDCH invites the public to review the Public Health Consultation and offer comments on it. Copies of the Public Health Consultation are available for public review at Bacon Memorial Library, 45 Vinewood, Wyandotte. Electronic copies are also available on the MDCH website at www.michigan.gov/mdch-toxics, under Health Assessments and Related Documents.

The MDCH Division of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology conducted the Public Health Consultation for Grassy Island under 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 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) web page at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaq.html.

Information and comments should be addressed to Christina Bush, MDCH, Division of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, Capitol View Building, P.O. Box 30195, Lansing, Michigan 48909. Comments may be sent via e-mail to bushcr@michigan.gov. People may also call the toll-free telephone number, 1-800-648-6942 (1-800-MI-TOXIC). Comments on the Public Health Consultation must be received by April 9, 2007. All comments received will be evaluated and considered and responses will be provided in the final version of the consultation.

For questions about Grassy Island in general, please contact Stephanie Millsap of the US Fish and Wildlife Service at 734-692-7628 or at stephanie_millsap@fws.gov.