Environmental Health Division
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Health Risk Limit Rules for Groundwater
The Health Risk Assessment (HRA) unit in ESA has amended the Health Risk Limits (HRL) Rules (Minnesota Rules 4717.7860 and 4717.7500) to formally adopt 12 health-based guidance values for groundwater contaminants. The amendments add health-based guidance values for six chemicals that were not previously in the Health Risk Limit Rules for Groundwater. In addition, outdated HRL values (adopted in 1993 and 1994) for six chemicals are repealed and replaced by new HRL values. The new HRL values went into effect on Monday, September 30, 2013. For more information, including the list of chemicals with new HRLs please see
Health Impact Assessment Activities
Health Impact Assessment Training offered. On September 13, 2013, MDH staff from the MN Climate & Health Program, Kristin Raab, Kelly Muellman & Brenda Hoppe, provided an all-day HIA training to 38 people, representing 26 organizations. Staff provided a brief background on the history of HIA and described the six essential steps in conducting an HIA (i.e., screening, scoping, assessment, recommendations, reporting, monitoring, and evaluation).
Haila Maze, City of Minneapolis, introduced the main case study for the training: the Above the Falls Master Plan that impacts North Side and Northeast Minneapolis. The trainees applied knowledge learned from the presentations by performing screening and scoping steps, using the Above the Falls Master Plan. After the exercises were complete, Jared Erdmann, Minneapolis Health Department, summarized the results and lessons learned from the completed HIA on the Above the Falls Master Plan. Overall the feedback on the training was positive.
Kelly Muellman attended the 2013 Upper Midwest Planners Conference in Rochester, MN, September 18-20 on behalf of the MN Climate & Health Program. Kelly presented on integrating Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) into planning in partnership with local planners in Duluth and Winona County. Additionally, Kelly conducted “speed sessions” on the forthcoming Minnesota Climate Vulnerability Assessment.
Kristin Raab and Kelly Muellman attended the 2nd Annual National Health Impact Assessment Meeting September 24-25, in Washington, DC. Kristin Raab presented at two sessions: Building Capacity to Support HIA at the State and Regional Levels and Health in All Policies and HIA. Both attended a preconference Health Impact Assessment Grantee Meeting on September 23, and Kelly attended a Post-Conference Discussion Session on September 26. Kristin, Kelly and Brenda Hoppe are leading efforts in Minnesota to increase HIA capacity and performance in Minnesota, including facilitating the MN HIA Coalition and two HIAs.
Radioactive Materials Activities
The Minnesota Radiation Emergency Volunteers (MREV) hosted two trainings with the Department of Human Services (DHS) on October 1st and 8th. The trainings in St. Cloud and Lakeville gave the volunteers opportunities for hands-on experience with the equipment used at the reception centers during a radiological event. Working with the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP), the Radioactive Materials Unit was able to record the training and make it available online for members unable to attend either event.
MDH Radioactive Materials Unit has been invited to participate in an upcoming Radioactive Dispersal Device (RDD) workshop. The RDD development group met on Oct 4th to begin planning for a spring workshop. Look for more details and opportunities to participate in the near future.
Teresa Purrington and Craig Verke were invited to speak about regulatory compliance at the annual meeting for Minnesota Society of Radiologic Technologies (MSRT). This two day meeting involved approximately 170 people talking about current issues in radiation imaging. MSRT is an active group of radiologic professionals and students in the state and a vocal stakeholder.
Sherrie Flaherty was invited to speak about medical events involving radiation therapy at the annual meeting for the Twin Cities Radiation Therapists (TCRT). Recently Minnesota began participating, along with 26 other states, with the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) in an effort to collect data from radiation therapy medical events in a national database to look for trends. Discussion of Minnesota events and national events was a timely topic for this group of radiation therapists and dosimetrists in the metro area.
Environmental Exposure Grand Rounds (EEGR)
The 2013-2014 schedule has been set for Environmental Exposure Grand Rounds (EEGR), a collaboration between MDH and the Poison Control Center to present topics of interest to physicians and public health folks around chemical exposures and health. The Grand Rounds will be held the first Wednesday of the month, in November 2013 and February and May of 2014. For more information, see:
EEGR Upcoming Schedule and Speakers:
- November 6, 2013 — Ruth Lynfield, MD
Synthetic or Designer ‘Recreational’ Drugs
- February 5, 2014 — Stephen Hecht, PhD
Smoking and Mechanisms of Lung Cancer
- May 7, 2014 — Michael Georgieff, MD
Iron Deficiency and Brain Development
We hope to see you at these timely and interesting seminars. If you have ideas for future speakers, please contact Carl Herbrandson or Julie Kadrie of the Environmental Surveillance & Assessment Section:
Contacts for Future EEGR Speaker Ideas:
- Julie Kadrie:
- Carl Herbrandson:
EcoExperience Wins People's Choice Award
The EcoExperience was selected for the People’s Choice Award for Best Attraction at the Minnesota State Fair. The whole EcoExperience is a multi-agency/business partnership, with many displays on a variety of environmental issues. The new drinking water display is a part of that EcoExperience—and a very popular one already.
There were many contributions from the Sections of Drinking Water Protection, Well Management, Environmental Surveillance and Assessment, and elsewhere across the Environmental Health Division. Special thanks to Norm Mofjeld, Stew Thornley, Tannie Eshenaur, Ginny Yingling, Jim Walsh, Leslie Winter, and Nancy LaPlante for this multi-section effort of creating the display for the exhibit, along with all the volunteers who staffed the exhibit during the Minnesota State Fair. The hard work of all of these programs and people contributed to the new drinking water display, which in turn contributed to the award that was earned by the EcoExperience partnership.
Below is a picture of the display on the first day of the Minnesota State Fair:
National Environmental Health Association Annual Education Conference and Exhibition
Drinking Water Protection staff attended and participated in the technical sessions of the National Environmental Health Association Annual Education Conference and Exhibition in Washington D.C. from July 9th to 11th. Carol Kephart and Sharon Smith co-presented a poster session, "Waterborne Disease and Public Health – A Safe Drinking Water Act Regulatory Perspective." As part of the lecture sessions, Dave Schulz presented on "Groundwater Ammonia: A Minnesota Case Study" In addition Sharon served as moderator for the water quality lecture sessions.
Hostile Action Based Tabletop Drill
On August 6th, Xcel Energy and HSEM hosted a Hostile Action Based (HAB) tabletop drill to walk through the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant Radiological Emergency Preparedness HAB events plan. The tabletop drill was designed to evaluate the actions that would be taken during an HAB as well as to educate stakeholders of the plan. EH sent subject matter experts, who would have an indirect role in a response to such an event, as well as several observers.
MDH and MPCA Join Together to Reduce Exposure to TCE to Spring Park Residents
Trichloroethylene (TCE) was released to the environment during industrial activities at the former Advance Machine Company. The property was redeveloped into 25 privately-owned townhomes. Previous efforts to gain access to the residential properties to conduct a vapor intrusion investigation and provide mitigation systems were of limited success. In addition, TCE is present at low levels in the City municipal water from an unknown source. A Health Consultation (HC) written by MDH staff analyzed and described the exposure to TCE from vapor intrusion and municipal drinking water was distributed to townhome residents in June 2013. An MDH TCE and vapor intrusion information sheet was included in a MPCA mailing to townhome residents. MPCA and MDH staff answered residents' questions at a July 2013 townhome meeting, and a presentation by MDH and MPCA staff was made at a July 2013 Spring Park city council meeting.
More than half of the townhome owners have signed up to have mitigation systems installed as a result of the coordinated outreach efforts. The townhome board members voted to recommend that all owners install a mitigation system for vapor intrusion and the board will work to insure that all buildings comply with the recommendation. In addition, MPCA has agreed to initiate an investigation to determine the source of TCE in the municipal wells.
It's Been Hot, Hot, Hot!
The MN Climate & Health Program in the ESA Section has been busy sharing resources and tips for staying cool during our latest heat wave. Staff have had several opportunities this past week to share the Minnesota Extreme Heat Toolkit on social media, radio, and television. The toolkit, developed in 2012, is a resource that local public health and local governments can use to understand the impact of extreme heat on health, learn and implement strategies for preventing heat illness, and develop a response plan for an extreme heat event. For more information, see:
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