Reclaiming the Sierra

Healthcare Professionals Workshop

This workshop sponsored by:  Sierra Health Foundation

Reclaiming the Sierra 2012 featured a half day workshop focused on the health impacts of mercury in fish, and what regional healthcare professionals can do to inform their patients.    The workshop will also feature Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) with a presentation on the use and importance of their Pediatric Environmental Health ToolkitFlyer available here.

This workshop was held in the afternoon on Thursday, May 3, 2012 in Nevada City, CA.

Mercury Health: Information on Mercury in the Environment and in the Human Body

This hour-long training provides a background on how mercury gets into water bodies and, subsequently as methylmercury, into the fish that we eat. Participants learned how to identify at risk patients, how to advise patients to reduce mercury in their bodies, and receive an overview of the wide variety of symptoms of mercury exposure. California Indian Environmental Alliance (CIEA) staff has given mercury in the human body presentations and trainings since 2003 and has partnered with The Sierra Fund to bring this information to Reclaiming the Sierra 2012.

Participants recieved a set of CIEA’s peer-reviewed educational materials, developed to address the educational needs of high risk communities and pregnant women, developing fetuses, and children, who are most affected by mercury in the human body. These included CIEA’s “Eating Fish Safely” brochures, “Mercury Health Toolkit,” and available local fish advisory information.

This training was eligible for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits TM or 1.2 credit hours for nurses through CIEA’s partnership with the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, accredited by the Institute for Medical Quality/California Medical Association.

Environmental Health Toolkit

Dr. Tony DeRiggi (Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sacramento Chapter) presented the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit, a combination of easy-to-use reference guides for health providers and user friendly health education materials on preventing exposures to toxic chemicals and other substances that affect infant and child health. The Toolkit is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The Toolkit fills physicians’ need for a clear direction on how to talk to their patients about environmental health exposures to mercury, arsenic, lead and asbestos–which in our region are present as a result of abandoned mines. The Greater Boston (GBPSR) and San Francisco Bay Area chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility, in partnership with the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at the University of California, San Francisco, and a team of pediatricians from around the country, developed the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit.

Mercury Exposure Studies

The Sierra Fund presented results of the Gold Country Angler Survey, completed in 2011.  This study indicated that people are consuming locally-caught sport fish from mercury-contaminated water ways in amounts that exceed safe levels, and that in general there is limited understanding of the associated health hazards from eating mercury-contaminated fish.  This workshop also included information on state-issued fish consumption advisories issued for Sierra Nevada rivers and reservoirs, as well as safe eating guidelines for the cases where no state-issued advisory is available due to lack of data.