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E-M:/ LocalMotion presents Mr. Michael Gilbertson

Title: LocalMotion presents Mr. Michael Gilbertson


Raising awareness to improve health

NEWS                                     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         
September 20, 2001              Contact: Melissa Bunker at (313) 886-9074

Toxic Chemicals in the Great Lakes Basin

International Joint Commission Scientist Michael Gilbertson discusses the threats.

Toxic chemicals found in Great Lakes waters and fish continue to pose a significant hazard to adults and children, reports pioneering biologist Michael Gilbertson.  To reduce the risks to their health, the people of Michigan need to do more than stop eating fish, he adds.  They need to act on timely and accurate information.

An expert on the impact of toxic contaminants on wildlife and human populations, Mr. Gilbertson will describe the hazards ‹ and what can be done to minimize them ‹ in a special public presentation titled: ³Threats in the Great Lakes ‹ Are Chemicals Really the Cause?²  Dr. Raymond Demers, Director, Josephine Ford Cancer Center, Henry Ford Health System, will introduce Mr. Gilbertson. During his presentation, Mr. Gilbertson, an internationally recognized scientist, will present the facts, describe the dangers, and detail strategies for lowering the health risks from Great Lakes water and fish.

Mr. Gilbertson¹s public lecture will be hosted Tuesday, October 16, by LocalMotion ‹ a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the connections between toxic chemicals in the environment and negative health consequences, such as cancer, in southeastern Michigan.  Mr. Gilbertson¹s lecture is presented by LocalMotion and cosponsored by Bon Secours Cottage Health Services and the Edith McNaughton Ford Center for Radiation Oncology.

³Persistent toxic substances continue to leach from chemical landfill sites and contaminated sediments, and continue to be deposited from the atmosphere, thereby maintaining concentrations high enough to continue to cause injury to fish, wildlife, and human populations,² Gilbertson reports.  ³[P]ollution by specific persistent toxic substances of the waters of the Great Lakes has resulted in observed injury to human health and to wildlife health.²

As a staff member of the International Joint Commission, the official governmental body of the United States and Canada charged with evaluating progress on the management of shared waters, Mr. Gilbertson studied how the people of the region have become contaminated with industrial chemicals.  His studies examine what kinds of ill effects people of the Great Lakes region suffer; as well as what people can do about it.  Gilbertson gained international recognition as the first scientist to document effects of toxic contaminants on Great Lakes herring gulls.

³Michael Gilbertson is a scrupulous biologist who planned and organized the first surveys of pesticide concentrations in the plant and animal life of the lower Great Lakes,² said Elizabeth Dance, Executive Director of LocalMotion.  ³He began his work in the early 1960s and he devoted the next 30 years to studying how toxic chemicals have influenced birds and beasts that eat contaminated Great Lakes fish.  And now he is studying the effects on people.²

Despite reductions in the emissions of industrial pollution, the health threat remains from the man-made chemicals which do not readily break down into safer substances, Mr. Gilbertson says.  His research found that even in remote wilderness areas, birds and other wildlife were exhibiting birth defects, directly caused by the toxic chemicals found in the water, food and environment of the Great Lakes basin.

Moreover, Mr. Gilbertson says, the latest research also indicates the toxic chemicals found in the fish and water of the Great Lakes hold serious repercussions for the people of Michigan, with particularly dire implications for the state¹s children and future generations.  Health statistics show rising numbers of neurological problems, including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, and decreased short-term memory abilities.  Birth defects, reduced sperm quality, and delays in pregnancy are only a few of the other health concerns which have been found to directly correlate with the historic rise in the region¹s level of chemical contamination.

Mr. Gilbertson earned his Master of Science degree in Ecology from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He moved to Canada in 1969.  After working with Environment Canada and later the Canadian Wildlife Service, he joined the International Joint Commission in 1988 as a biologist.  Much of his present work is involved with helping scientists translate their findings into information that is accessible to other scientists, to politicians, and to the general public.

Mr. Gilbertson¹s address is the first in the LocalMotion lecture series ³Toxic Chemicals in the Great Lakes Basin Š The Michigan Story.²  Presented by internationally recognized medical and environmental experts, the series provides credible scientific information that helps people understand the connections between health and environment.  Described in the attached document, the series inspires people to make better choices that will reduce the risk of cancer and other health problems.  Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum; Dr. Louis J. Guillette and Dr. Elizabeth A. Guillette; Dr. Joseph Jacobson; and Mr. Gordon K. Durnil also will make presentations for LocalMotion audiences.

The LocalMotion address begins at 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 16, 2001, at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial auditorium, 32 Lakeshore Drive, Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  Mr. Gilbertson¹s presentation is open to the public.  Admission is $5 per person.

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Toxic Chemicals in the Great Lakes Basin Š The Michigan Story

2001­2002 Lectures

October 16, 2001
Threats in the Great Lakes ‹ Are Chemicals Really the Cause?
Mr. Michael Gilbertson
Researching the role of man-made chemicals in the environment of the Great Lakes for the International Joint Commission (IJC), Mr. Michael Gilbertson was the first scientist to document effects of toxic contaminants on herring gulls.  His latest work raises concerns about the region¹s pollution upon Michigan¹s population ‹ particularly children.  Currently serving the IJC as a biologist, Mr. Gilbertson also works to help scientists translate their findings into information that is accessible to other scientists, politicians, and members of the public.

December 5, 2001
Dioxins ‹ Are We all at Risk
Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum
Dioxin has been called one of the most dangerous chemicals ever known.  Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum will discuss where dioxin comes from, how we interact with it ‹ and specifically, its staggering impact on human health.  She also talk address the effects of dioxin on life in the Great Lakes.  Dr. Birnbaum serves as lead scientist and director of health research in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency¹s (EPA) dioxin reassessment program.

February 6, 2002
Hidden Impacts of Pesticides: Are They Occurring Here?
Dr. Louis J. Guillette
Dr. Elizabeth A. Guillette
In independent research, the Guillettes have shown that pesticides can undermine intelligence, impact behavior and diminish reproductive capacity.  The sobering fact is that these deficits occur without any obvious signs of poisoning.  In ³Lessons from the Swamp,² Dr. Louis J. Guillette, professor of zoology at the University of Florida, examines how complex mixtures of pesticides affect environmental health, resulting in serious developmental deformities in the lake¹s alligators and fish.  In ³From the Swamp to the Great Waters,² Dr. Elizabeth A. Guillette, documents the startlingly different neurological capabilities between the children of two similar towns nestled in one of Mexico¹s largest agricultural areas.  Her ground-breaking work shows pesticide exposures account for diminished abilities of one group ‹ the children lack energy, are saddled with significant learning disabilities and have coordination problems.  Many of the pesticides used in this area are in use throughout the U.S. and Canada.

April 10, 2002
Intellectual Impairment in Michigan Children from PCB-Contaminated Food
Dr. Joseph Jacobson
Measurable quantities of PCBs circulate throughout Michigan, resulting in significant and enduring problems for children, reports Dr. Joseph Jacobson.  Working with Sandra Jacobson, Dr. Joseph Jacobson investigated the impacts of environmental contaminants in the Great Lakes over the past 20 years.  Based on their findings, Dr. Jacobson will discuss how PCBs, an industrial pollutant, can move into the womb and influence the developing baby, leading to changes in a child¹s general IQ level, verbal skills, capacity to pay attention, reading comprehension and physical coordination.  Dr. Jacobson is a Developmental Psychology Professor and Chair of Psychology at Wayne State University.

May 16, 2002
The Making of a Conservative Environmentalist
Mr. Gordon K. Durnil
Acknowledging the real ways persistent toxic chemicals subtly compromise human health ‹ often irreversibly ‹ Mr. Gordon K. Durnil tackles the issue of raising awareness to meet the challenges and threats to health.  Acknowledging that most people doubt the truth, Mr. Durnil will examine the value of overcoming deeply ingrained points of view in light of overwhelming scientific fact.  He will also discuss the crucial role individuals can play in protecting human and environmental health.  Appointed by former President George Bush to be Chairman of the United States Section of the International Joint Commission, Mr. Durnil is an attorney practicing probate, governmental, and administrative law, as well as charitable, campaign and environmental law.

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