Skip to main content

Oscoda Area Exposure Assessment (OAEA)

MDHHS’s OAEA project is an investigation of exposure to certain chemicals in the blood and urine of residents of the Oscoda area, including mercury, PCBs, and PFAS.

People can come in contact with chemicals in what they eat and drink, in products they use, at work and in their environment, like in the air, soil and water. Some chemicals are helpful and necessary for life, and some can be harmful. Either way, this contact with chemicals is called a chemical exposure.

Oscoda Area Exposure Assessment Project Status Infographic. 443 Participants and 299 Households have enrolled. 126 visits have been completed, and while the study accepts adolescents age 12 to 17 years, all visits thus far have been completed by adults age 18 or older. Updated 3/23/2023.


The Oscoda Area Exposure Assessment is now enrolling participants!

To check if you or your household members are eligible, call 844-464-7327.

Who is eligible for this study?

Adults (18 years and older) and adolescents (12 to 17 years) who live in either Oscoda or AuSable Township.

To check if you are eligible, call 844-464-7327.

If you are eligible, you will be able to enroll in the study when you call.

Why should I participate in this project?

By participating in this study, participants can:

  • Learn about their exposure to PFAS.
  • Learn about their exposure to other chemicals, such as mercury and PCBs that can be found in fish throughout the Great Lakes region.
  • Be a part of Michigan’s PFAS projects.

How is MDHHS conducting this project?

The OAEA is carried out as one part of the Michigan biomonitoring surveillance program named the Michigan Chemical Exposure Monitoring project, or MiChEM. The MiChEM icon (left) will be on materials used in the OAEA. To learn more, visit our MiChEM page.

Using MiChEM materials and methods, the OAEA will:

  • Provide adult participants measurements for a total of 197 chemicals, including 45 PFAS, from samples of their blood and urine. Guardians of adolescent participants will be provided with the measurements for a total of 45 PFAS from a sample of the adolescent’s blood.
  • Be able to compare results to Michigan as a whole. This will help MDHHS identify if OAEA participants have different exposures than other Michigan residents.

Key ways that the OAEA is different than the MiChEM project conducted in other parts of Michigan are:

OAEA MiChEM project in other parts of Michigan

All members of an eligible household who are 12 years or older can participate.

There is no limit to the number of eligible people who can participate.

One randomly selected adult (18 years or older) per eligible household can participate.

There is a limit to the number of households in a specific geographic area who can participate.

Testing for participants ages 12-17 Participants aged 12-17 years will have a blood sample tested for PFAS. Those aged 12-17 years are not eligible to participate.
Appointment Times Appointment availability will begin in 2022 and span through the next few years. Appointments will only be available during a short period of time in each selected community.

For more information, including the list of 197 chemicals that adult samples will be tested for in OAEA, visit Michigan Chemical Exposure Monitoring (MiChEM).

What will participants do?

  • Participants will answer survey questions online or by phone, which will take about 30 to 45 minutes. These questions are about how they may have come in contact with certain chemicals.
  • Participants will attend a 30-minute appointment. During the appointment, a trained professional will collect a blood sample and ask for a urine sample. (Participants 12 to 17 years will only provide a blood sample for PFAS testing.) The project team will follow COVID-19 safety measures.

Once participants complete these steps, they will receive:

  • A $65 Visa gift card.
  • Personal lab results for the 197 chemicals that we measured in blood and urine samples adult participants gave – a $1,000 value – along with resources on how to reduce chemical exposures. (Participants 12 to 17 years will receive personal lab results for the 45 PFAS measured in their blood samples.)

Will participants get their lab results?

Yes. Unless participants choose to opt out, lab results will be mailed to participants’ homes. The results will tell participants the amount of certain chemicals in their blood (and urine, if measured) at the time they were collected. Results will not show:

  • The source of any of the chemicals in blood or urine (if measured).
  • Anything about any chemicals we did not measure.
  • If the chemicals we measure are currently harming their health, have harmed health in the past or may harm health in the future.

MDHHS has resources for doctors and other health professionals.

In February 2021, MDHHS did a presentation about PFAS for doctors and other health professionals who see patients from the Oscoda area. To watch a video of the presentation, go to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): Information for Oscoda Area Healthcare Providers Webinar.

For more information about MDHHS resources for health care providers about environmental health, please visit Environmental Health Education for Health Care Providers.

Privacy and safety are important to MDHHS.

MDHHS will never publicly release information that could identify participants, such as their name or address. MDHHS will protect results to the fullest extent of the law. All project staff are required by law to maintain confidentiality for all project participants.

Only MDHHS will have access to and maintain the privacy and security of participants’ data and samples. Other parties may request to see their data, but MDHHS will not give it unless participants give their explicit permission. All samples will be stored at the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories. Participants’ DNA will not be tested or given to any other parties.


If you have questions about the Oscoda Area Exposure Assessment (OAEA) project, call 844-464-7327 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.