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

Contact: Kelly Niebel (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health


The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has released a Public Health Assessment evaluating people's contact with the oil remaining at the bottom of the Kalamazoo River as a result of the July 2010 oil spill.

The MDCH has concluded that contact with the submerged oil will not cause people to have long-term health effects or have a higher than normal risk of cancer. Although long-term health effects will not result from contact with the submerged oil, contact with the oil may cause short-term effects, such as skin irritation.

The stretch of river addressed in the assessment extends from Talmadge Creek in Marshall (Calhoun County), to Morrow Lake in Comstock Township (Kalamazoo County).

The Public Health Assessment only discusses 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. It's important to note that 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.

MDCH invites the public to read the Public Health Assessment. 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

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 Oct. 18. Responses to all comments will be provided in the final version of the assessment.

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.