Domoic acid neurotoxicity in Native Americans
Lynn Grattan, Ph.D.
Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore are investigating the health impacts of amnesic shellfish poisoning, a new memory disorder caused by repeated exposure to the marine biotoxin domoic acid. Recent data indicate that Native American Reservations in the Pacific Northwest are at risk for significant, but preventable, neurobehavioral impairment because of their consumption of razor clams, which have shown domoic acid levels close to or exceeding safety levels over the last 17 years. This 5-year longitudinal cohort study will establish the clinical and public health significance of domoic acid exposure in three Pacific Northwest tribes and determine the health effects of chronic, low level exposures to domoic acid over time. Safety levels for exposure will be re-evaluated to ensure they protect people with long term, repeated exposure to domoic acid.