Fish serve an important dietary and cultural role in many Native communities throughout California. Unfortunately, both wild-caught and store-bought fish can be contaminated with mercury and other chemicals like PCBs. These chemicals can affect the health and development of the fetus, infants and young children. Exposure can lead to permanent learning disabilities, an increase in type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life. Information provided by agencies to consumers is often outdated or confusing.
However, fish are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential for brain development. Here is an important article on farm raised salmon vs wild caught.
See our Resources Page for information on how to eat fish safely and links to local fish consumption advisories. See our Advocacy Program page for ways to address mercury contamination in your community.
mercury tribal health training for health care providers, tribal leadership and communities
CIEA offers our “Mercury Health: Information in the Environment and Human Body” free of charge to health care clinics, WIC programs, at community events and for Tribal leadership throughout California. This presentation can be from 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on need and time constraints.
We also offer CME certificates for those who want them, through our partnership with the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH), accredited by the Institute for Medical Quality/California Medical Association (IMQ/CMA). Should you choose this option, the certificates are $15 each, (the cost of processing the certificates). Physicians and nurses will receive a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM
All of our trainings include copies of state and federal issued fish advisory materials, as well as CIEA’s materials developed to address the educational needs of high risk communities and pregnant women, developing fetuses, and children. Materials include our “Eating Fish Safely” brochures, “Mercury Health Toolkit” and available local fish advisory information.
To schedule a training, please contact Sherri firstname.lastname@example.org at or call us at (510) 848-2043.
“making healthy choices” wic program & curriculum
In June 2011, CIEA and Native American Health Center, Oakland, Women, Infants and Children Clinic created the first GC-30 general families nutrition course with assistance from the California Department of Public Health. The “Making Healthy Fish Choices” curriculum teaches families about why fish are an important food for all family members to eat. But teaches that not all fish are healthy since some are high in toxins like mercury and PCBs.
Eating fish high in mercury can cause permanent learning disabilities when exposed through pregnant mothers or an increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life if exposed while young. The “Making Healthy Fish Choices” curriculum informs WIC families about which fish should be chosen using their WIC vouchers and how to eat safe locally caught fish. This curriculum is the first in the nation and clearly shows the benefits of eating fish low in mercury and PCBs. It is regionally customizable so that information about what fish are eaten locally and regional cultural information can be integrated into the module.
In 2013 CIEA and the Oakland NAHC-WIC clinic piloted the new curriculum in a GC 30 format in Oakland over a 3 month period. It was a favored course clients asked that it be extended. The course was extended for an additional 2 months and in total we reached 1350 families.
In 2014, through a grant with the California Environmental Protection Agency CIEA has partnered with the Karuk Tribe Natural Resource Department to bring the “Making Healthy Fish Choices” program and curriculum to the Klamath. CIEA has worked closely with Tribes in the Klamath Region, who have confirmed that this new WIC curriculum on fish consumption would work well with existing and upcoming programs to promote traditional foods in the region.
The goals of the WIC program are to:
- Empower Native families to eat fish while avoiding mercury & PCBs
- Educate those most at-risk (women of childbearing age & children) about the health risks of these chemicals
- Increase awareness and understanding of local fish advisories
To receive more information about the curriculum, program, evaluation results, WIC staff trainings, or to become a WIC Program Partner, please contact Lauren at email@example.com, Sherri at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 510 848-2043.
The new WIC Curriculum has been posted! We look forward to working towards statewide adoption with your clinic.