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Grant will help educate public on chemicals in water

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The Otter Tail Community Health Board has received a grant to educate the public on potential chemicals found in drinking water.

The grant will be used to help inform community members in Otter Tail, Clay, Wilkin and Becker counties about chemicals that may be found in drinking water, and ways to help prevent further contamination.

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The grant was awarded to the Otter Tail Community Health Board from the Minnesota Department of Health’s Contaminants of Emerging Concern Program, it was announced last week.

The state health department conducts annual studies to identify contaminants that can be found in Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and drinking water.

According to the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Program’s website, chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, personal care products, plasticizers and flame retardants can find their way into water through storm run-offs, septic and city sewer systems as well as personal use and improper disposal of chemicals.

A contaminant is generally a substance that is in a place where it doesn’t belong. Contaminants of emerging concern are substances that have been released to, found in, or have the potential to enter Minnesota waters (groundwater or surface water) and:

-Do not have Minnesota human health-based guidance (how much of a substance is safe to drink);

-Pose a real or perceived health threat; or

-Have new or changing health or exposure information.

New contaminants are being found in Minnesota waters, due, in part, to:

-Better methods for finding substances at lower levels;

-Additional substances being looked for;

-New substances being used; and

-Old substances being used in new ways.

The work of this program helps the health department understand the potential health effects of these contaminants.

Rumor Has It Public Relations will be collaborating with the Otter Tail Community Health Board to recruit partners to participate in an assessment to identify potential sources of contamination, as well as communicate and educate the public about contaminants of emerging concern. The project will also educate participating sites about how to properly dispose of such contaminants. 

Rumor Has It is currently seeking five organizations in each of the four participating counties interested in partnering in this program. Contact Leslie Staker at 218-280-2277 or by email at rumorhasit.mn@gmail.com.

For more information about the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Program, visit www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/risk/guidance/dwec/cecinfosheet.pdf.

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