Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

Study Location: Chicago, Illinois

Academic Partners: 
University of Illinois, Chicago
Susan Buchanan, M.D.
Mary Turyk, Ph.D.

Community Partners:
Chinese Mutual Aid
Hanul Family Alliance
Midwest Asian Health Association
Vietnamese Association of Illinois

Project Description

Asian Woman

This project aims to characterize exposure to mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from fish consumption in Asian communities in Chicago. These results will be used to develop targeted health messaging to lower risk of exposure to contaminants from fish while maintaining healthful fish consumption. Exposure to methylmercury and PCBs by eating contaminated fish can lead to behavioral and cognitive problems, hardening of the arteries, and cancer. Because of their frequent fish consumption, Asians in the United States have higher mercury levels than other racial or ethnic groups. But scientists do not understand fully which fish consumption practices cause elevated exposures or whether fish consumption also increases exposure to other pollutants, such as PCBs. This project will focus on Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities in Chicago.

The project aims to:

  • Work with established community organizations that are focused solely on the Chicago Asian community to identify risk factors for elevated mercury and PCB intake from fish and to identify subgroups who may be at risk for adverse health effects from fish consumption.
  • Develop health messaging aimed at subgroups with the highest risk.
  • Test an intervention of text messaging developed specifically for women of childbearing age.
  • Work with community partners to design a public outreach campaign to promote healthful fish consumption.