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Preliminary findings from research into long term health effects of PBB expected this week

Velsicol Chemical operating on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan.
Pine River Citizen Superfund Task Force
Velsicol Chemical operating on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan.

Researchers are expected to release preliminary findings this week about the potential long term health effects of PBB. The flame retardant was accidentally introduced into Michigan’s food supply in the 1970s.  

Experts are expected to release the results at a conference hosted by Alma College. PBB was once manufactured in the neighboring city of St. Louis, Michigan.

“We want an outcome that goes beyond just all of us hearing about this information from these experts,” said Ed Lorenz, a professor at Alma College.

His goal is to create a “consensus” document; one that could eventually be published in a peer reviewed journal and drive policy about flame retardant exposure. He's having residents exposed to PBB who come to the conference work with experts there to get an outline going.

Researchers from Emory University will have an update of ongoing research into the long term effects on human health and genetics. Others will address environmental justice issues and how government agencies determine what is a safe levels of certain contaminants. You can find the full agenda here.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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