SHI to sponsor lecture on exposure to mercury in humans, potential effects in select marine mammals

    Photo provided by Sealaska Heritage Institute

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a lecture this week on the approaches to assessing exposure of humans to mercury (including published examples from Mexico), and exposure and effects in select marine mammals. This will be conducted in an Oceans and Human Health context, or One Health.

    In his lecture, Coastal Community One Health: Mercury in Subsistence Foods, Dr. Todd O’Hara will review the current understanding of mercury in marine ecosystems and implications for human exposure in Alaska and Mexico. He will highlight gaps in our understanding that need further study, especially some subsistence foods in Southeast Alaska.

    Working closely with Indigenous communities, O’Hara has done extensive studies on nutrients and contaminants of marine diets (for fish, wildlife and humans), including through chemical analyses of hair.

    “We have advanced understanding of dietary pathways of mercury and other contaminants exposure in fish consumers, including humans, and potential adverse effects in pinnipeds, such as sea lions and seals,” he wrote.

    He will highlight the need for professional and scientific assessments of contaminants in some subsistence foods not currently covered by regulatory agencies.

    The community-based research was done under the umbrella of One Health, a collaborative, multisectoral and transdisciplinary approach that recognizes the connection between the health of people, animals and the environment.

    The lecture is scheduled for 12 pm, Friday, April 14, in Shuká Hít within SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, 105 S. Seward St. in Juneau. The lecture will be livestreamed and posted on SHI’s YouTube channel.

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