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E-M:/ LocalMotion presents: Dr. Joseph Jacobson on PCBs and Kids' Health

Title: LocalMotion presents: Dr. Joseph Jacobson on PCBs and Kids' Health


Better Health Through Fewer Toxins

NEWS                 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         
March 21, 2002            Contact: Melissa Bunker at (313) 886-9074

PCBs Continue to Endanger the Health of Michigan Children ‹ Leading Authority to Present Facts and What Can be Done to Protect Families

When it comes to the health of Michigan¹s children, ignorance is not bliss.  Case in point: PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls.

Banned from commercial and industrial use since 1979, PCBs continue to pose serious threats to the mental and physical health and development of Michigan children, reports scientist Dr. Joseph Jacobson, who extensively examined the links between human health and PCBs.  Known risks to children include lowered IQs and a number of learning disabilities, according to Dr. Jacobson, Developmental Psychology Professor and Chair of Psychology at Wayne State University.

Dr. Jacobson will address what Michigan residents can do to protect children and reduce the risks posed by PCBs in a special LocalMotion presentation April 10 in Grosse Pointe, Mich.  Dr. Jacobson¹s address is titled ³Intellectual Impairment in Michigan Children from PCB-Contaminated Food.²

The LocalMotion presentation is the fourth in the LocalMotion lecture series ³Toxic Chemicals in the Great Lakes Basin Š The Michigan Story.²  The LocalMotion address begins at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, 2002, at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial auditorium, 32 Lakeshore Drive, Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  The presentation is open to the public.  Admission is $5.  For information, members of the public are asked to call (734) 623-0773.

PCBs were found to have contaminated the storm drains and two canals of St. Clair Shores, Mich., in late February.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated the concentrations of the PCBs were about 33,000 parts per million, or 33,000 times larger than the safety guidelines of 1 part per million, rivaling the health threat posed at some of the nation¹s infamous ³Superfund Sites.²

Searching for the source of the contamination, EPA and Michigan authorities reported the PCB contamination appears to have been dumped intentionally and illegally into the water system.  Once the contamination can be isolated, the drain system will be cleansed of PCBs in the coming months, EPA officials reported.

An industrial pollutant once commonly used in the production of electrical transformers, PCBs continue to circulate in measurable quantities throughout Michigan, resulting in significant and enduring problems for children, Dr. Jacobson reports.  Researching the impact of PCBs on the health of Michigan children over 20 years, Dr. Jacobson studied the ways PCBs pass from the pregnant mother to the fetus, where they influence the baby¹s development.

Not immediately apparent upon birth, the chemical contamination can result in changes in a child¹s general IQ level, verbal skills, capacity to pay attention, reading comprehension and physical coordination.  PCB exposure also has been found to significantly affect short-term memory and problem-solving skills.

Long-terms studies also found that the IQs of children exposed to PCBs were measured to have fallen by an average of six points, Dr. Jacobson reports.  While affected children may still fall into the ³average² IQ range, the exposed children typically were at the bottom of the average range; those who fell toward the bottom of average would then be categorized ³below average² in IQ.

The studies reveal PCB-exposed children may lag about six months behind in intellectual development.  The findings indicated PCB exposure cut across socio-economic lines.  Surprisingly, the research indicated that the effects on learning were stronger and more clearly defined at age 11, than at age 4.

³As the news from St. Clair Shores indicates, PCBs continue to pose a grave threat to the health of Michigan¹s children,² said Betsy Dance, executive director of LocalMotion.  ³Dr. Jacobson helped establish the link between a child¹s intellectual capabilities and his or her exposure to PCBs.   His address will provide information the people of Michigan and the Great Lakes need to make sound decisions that help protect the health of their families and themselves.²

LocalMotion is 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 an effort to improve health and quality of life for people living in southeastern Michigan.  The lecture is co-sponsored by Bon Secours Cottage Health Services and the Edith McNaughton Ford Center for Radiation Oncology.

Presented by internationally recognized medical and environmental experts, the LocalMotion lecture series ³Toxic Chemicals in the Great Lakes Basin Š The Michigan Story² provides credible scientific information that helps people understand the connections between health and environment.  The series is intended to inspire people to make better choices that will reduce the risk of cancer and other health problems.

On May 16, 2002, Mr. Gordon K. Durnil will present ³The Making of a Conservative Environmentalist,² the concluding presentation in the LocalMotion 2001-2002 lecture series.  Other speakers are pioneering biologist Mr. Michael Gilbertson, who described the impact of pollutants on the human and animal life of the Great Lakes region in October 2001.  Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum detailed threats to human health posed by dioxins in December 2001.  Dr. Louis J. Guillette and Dr. Elizabeth A. Guillette discussed the impact of synthetic chemicals in: ³Hidden Impacts of Pesticides: Are They Occurring Here?² in February 2002.

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343 South Main Street, Suite 206, Ann Arbor, Michigan  48104
Tel: 734/623-0773