Environmental Health Division

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New Contaminants of Emerging Concern Reports

The Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) Program in MDH's Environmental Surveillance and Assessment Section has produced a reformatted and updated Quarterly Report, which can be found on the CEC Program Activities Web page, along with the Nominated Contaminants Status Table for the second quarter of FY 2014.  Thanks to CEC communications coordinator Katie Nyquist for creating the new, user-friendly format.  Note: The report seems to display best in Internet Explorer or if downloaded and viewed in Reader. Firefox does not always display some of the graphics properties well. See the reports at:

Lead Compliance Program Receives Award

During the EPA Regional Lead program meeting in Chicago (March 5-6, 2014), the lead compliance program received a certificate of appreciation for continued support to the US EPA Region Five Tribal Lead Program by offering technical training and assistance to the Bois Forte Tribe over the past three years.  The award demonstrates the value of collaboration and sharing of information with diverse populations across the state.  A special acknowledgement goes to Bruce Lange for his work with the new environmental team at Bois Forte in demonstrating the inner workings of the Asbestos and Lead Compliance program.

Showcasing New Health and Climate Video

As you may have seen in the Intranet homepage, MDH Commissioner Ehlinger and MPCA Commissioner Stine will be hosting a brownbag event to watch a new video, Health and Climate, Friday, April 4, from noon - 1 p.m., in OLF B-144/145. Produced in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television (tpt MN) and MDH, Health and Climate highlights the public health impacts of climate change in Minnesota. The video includes interviews with MDH, MPCA, and DNR staff along with meteorologists Mark Seeley and Paul Douglas.

Health and Climate will premiere April 20 on tpt MN, and will be made accessible on the MDH website for use by teachers, students, and others.  At the advance screening, we will show the video, and tpt MN senior producer Luke Heikkila will share how it was produced. Funding for this video was provided by CDC, in partnership with the MN Climate & Health Program and the MN Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.

Drinking Water in the News

A recent article on MN Public Radio featured the MDH Section of Drinking Water Protection staff Jim Lundy and Paul Halvorson in interviews on drinking water issues in southeast Minnesota.  See the story at:

National Webinar Featuring Source Water Protection Efforts

There will be a national webinar on Thursday, April 3rd featuring Minnesota Source Water Protection efforts and collaboration with Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District, sponsored by the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators and the Ground Water Protection Council.  Mark Wettlaufer, Supervisor in the Source Water Protection Unit of the Section of Drinking Water Protection, is a featured speaker.

Federal Safe Drinking Water Act 40th Anniversary Video

The Section of Drinking Water Protection produced a video celebrating the 40th anniversary of the passage of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which has helped create a nationwide system of public water supplies providing safe drinking water and critical public health protection. 
The video features MDH Commissioner Ed Ehlinger and MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine (an MDH alumnus!) as well as other Minnesotans influential in national water policy and legislation.  Stew Thornley of the Section of Drinking Water Protection was producer and narrator.  See the video:

MDH Staff Serving on a Peer Review for West Virginia

Environmental Health Division's Health Risk Assessment (HRA) toxicologist James Jacobus is serving on a peer review of a drinking water risk assessment. CDC and West Virginia health officials developed the risk assessment in response to a recent chemical spill that contaminated a large public water supply. Water contaminated at very low levels with the chemical MCHM has a licorice odor. Homes in nine counties were affected and concerns (and odors) linger. There is intense public interest in understanding the health risks from exposures and very little toxicity information on which to base public health actions. HRA and MDH welcome the opportunity to contribute to and learn from this difficult situation in West Virginia. Recent article about the spill:

New Assistant Division Director for EH

Dale Dorschner has been selected as the new Environmental Health Assistant Division Director. Dale’s experience and skills in the areas of program performance management, project development and implementation, partner relations and legislative activities will serve the division and agency well as we position the division for the future. He has had various technical and leadership roles in the Indoor Environments and Radiation section of Environmental Health since starting at MDH in 1998. Prior to coming to the state he was involved in private environmental consulting for a number of years.

Thanks to all during this time of transition in leadership for the EH division.

Future Methods for Toxicity Testing and Data Analysis

In January, Health Risk Assessment (HRA) toxicologist Ashley Suchomel attended a conference sponsored by the Society of Toxicology on future methods for toxicity testing and data analysis. Current research in toxicology that is now yielding data, such as using laboratory test-tube studies (high-throughput screening) and sequences in how the body reacts to a chemical (adverse outcome pathways) were presented. Ashley learned of challenges and emerging methods for analyzing the novel and very large amount of data that is intended for use in toxicity evaluations. Such work has the potential to greatly expand HRA options for risk assessment.

Congratulations are in order for Dave Reimann! 

Dave Reimann recently attended the National Center for Environmental Dave ReimannHealth (NCEH) Honor Awards Ceremony, where he accepted the Excellence in Partnering Award from the Acting Director of NCEH on behalf of EHS-Net Food state and local partners. More information on the National Center for Environmental Health can be found at: About NCEH

We are very proud of the work Dave has done in Minnesota as well as on a national level. He continues to be a leader in environmental health and a valuable member of the Food, Pools, and Lodging Services (FPLS) Section!

MDH Hosts Event Centered on Radionuclides

MDH Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) staff hosted a webinar/teleconference on January 28 with speakers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The event was for discussion of the occurrence and health risks of naturally-occurring radionuclides often found in Minnesota’s groundwater resources.  James Jacobus, MDH, gave an overview of an upcoming pilot project to quantify an important, but often ignored radionuclide, polonium-210.  Gary Rowe, USGS, provided a summary of the 2014-2016 National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) study, and John Griggs, EPA, described analytical methods for quantifying polonium-210 and lead-210 in groundwater samples.

3rd Annual Asbestos and Lead Stakeholder Meeting

The Asbestos and Lead Compliance Program hosted its 3rd Annual Asbestos and Lead Stakeholder Meetings on January 29th and February 4th at the Shoreview Community Center. Attendees included licensed asbestos contractors, lead certified firms, environmental consultants, training course providers, state government officials, county government, local public health, University of Minnesota staff, and other private industry.

Topics covered at the meeting included general updates/announcements from the MDH asbestos and lead program, overview of enforcement philosophy, administrative updates, MDH and MPCA compliance and enforcement findings, asbestos survey summary/targeted educational project based on findings, MPCA Lead Paint disposal updates, State of Wisconsin Renovate, Repair, and Paint program update, lead surveillance program updates, and 2014 legislative discussion.

The meetings were well received and attended and feedback was positive and encouraging, including valuable comments and suggestions for future meetings.

New Minnesota Well Sealing Video

The Well Management Section contracted with Anoka County to produce a video on well sealing in Minnesota. This project was done as part of a grant from the CDC to evaluate and improve education and outreach to private well owners in the State. Nancy LaPlante managed the project for MDH and Patrick Sarafolean was the technical specialist as well as on screen talent. Take a look at the video from the MDH Well Sealing Web page:

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Updated Wednesday, 02-Apr-2014 10:41:59 CDT