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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of Maryland, Baltimore

Rapid Risk Assessment of Chronic Domoic Acid Exposure in WA Razor Clam Harvesters

NIEHS Grant: R21ES028060

Lynn Grattan, Ph.D.

Domoic acid is a marine-based toxin that accumulates in shellfish, particularly clams. When high amounts are ingested by humans, they may experience Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, seizures, coma, or death. As a result, a regulatory limit of domoic acid concentrations in clams has been set to protect public health. Recently, evidence has shown that lower concentrations can cause health problems if people, such as the coastal Washington Native Americans, eat clams on a regular basis. As a result, government authorities have issued consumption advisories to the local Native Americans to prevent the health problems. This is a rapid response project to quickly determine whether consumption advisories or other actions should be implemented for non-Native American clam consumers. To inform decision making, the researchers are using toxicity data from studies of Native Americans and characterize domoic acid exposures of 1,100 non-Native American clam harvesters. Integrating these data with geospatial analysis, the researchers will identify locations and populations with increased risk of chronic human exposure. They are partnering with the Washington Department of Health to apply this information to regulatory decision making and help develop an action plan to protect public health.

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