Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, L.E.A.D. Agency, and OU Health Sciences Center are seeking participants for a study of mercury levels in fish and people who eat fish caught in the Grand Lake watershed.

This is the second year of the study, and organizers are hoping to get 150 volunteers to participate.

“We have 50 people signed up so far, and we will follow them for a year,” L.E.A.D. agency supervisor Rebecca Jim said.  “We want to be able to identify what fish they are eating and where they are being caught.  We’ll also be collecting fish samples if anyone would like the fish they are eating to be tested.”

Study team members will be recruiting community members interested in participating and hold follow up sessions with existing participants on the following dates and times: -

January 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Ketchum High School Commons Area, 236 N. Fulton St., Ketchum.

January 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Arrowhead Yacht Club.

January 31 either 3 to 5 p.m. or 5 to 7 p.m. at the LEAD Agency office 223 A. St. S.E., Miami. (For easy parking enter from the back.)

For additional information about this project or to learn more about becoming a study participant, email ehatley@neok.com or gmanders_lead@att.net  or call the LEAD Agency office at (918) 542-9399.

The study team received a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study mercury levels in fish from the Grand Lake watershed and possible mercury exposure in people who regularly eat fish from the watershed.

Methylmercury, the form of mercury commonly found in fish, is a neurotoxin that has been shown to affect the cognitive development of children. Additional studies have suggested that methylmercury is linked to heart disease in adult men. This study will evaluate locally caught fish and provide sample bags for collection to people donating a portion of their catch.

In addition to testing fish samples, researchers will also measure mercury levels in hair samples from people seasonally who regularly eat fish caught from the watershed.  Hair mercury levels are an indicator of how much mercury is in a person’s diet and may indicate unsafe levels of mercury exposure.  Participants will also complete surveys about their fish consumption, which will provide a sense of whether people who rely on Grand Lake as a source of fish tend to eat more fish than residents in other parts of the state and country.