The goal of The Sierra Fund’s Health Outreach Program is to conduct public outreach and education to help people take action to protect themselves, their families and their communities from exposure to legacy mining toxins.
In particular, our program covers reducing exposure to:
- Mercury which was widely used in historic gold mining throughout the Sierra Nevada and which today is present at high levels in certain kinds of fish; and
- Lead, Arsenic and Asbestos, which are naturally occurring in Sierra Nevada rocks but which can pose an exposure hazard at historic mine sites where these rocks were finely crushed and left spread over the surface.
The current phase of our program, which began in 2012, includes multiple activities. Click the links to read more about each component:
- Trainings for doctors and clinic staff about the presence of mercury in locally caught and commercial fish, and its danger to sensitive populations. Presentations range from 15 minutes to one hour depending on the desires of the clinic.
- Community Meetings in historic mining towns
- Posting state-issued Fish Consumption Advisories at popular fishing locations
- Holding collaborative meetings with community leaders and health professionals in historic mining towns and in the downstream communities that serve them
- Hosting a bi-annual conference on “Reclaiming the Sierra”
- Tabling and conducting outreach at events
- Communications through an online and print media campaign focused on providing accurate and detailed information on historic mercury use and how it impacts local fisheries.
Since 2006, The Sierra Fund has conducted a program to educate Sierra residents and the medical professionals who serve them about the environmental health hazards that result from exposure to historic mining toxins, which are found in locally caught fish and in dust near abandoned mine sites.
Our work is informed by numerous peer-reviewed scientific and medical studies, and our public outreach materials are reviewed by our Working Group of technical advisors. In addition to general research on mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxins resulting from historic mining, in 2009-2011 The Sierra Fund conducted two studies to learn whether exposure pathways to these toxins existed in the Sierra:
- The Gold Country Angler Survey looked at whether people were eating fish they caught at popular Sierra water bodies (click here for results and more details), and
- The Gold Country Recreational Trails and Abandoned Mines Assessment looked at whether there were high metals is the soil on trails that passed through historic mine sites (click here for more details)
Our job is to get the information we have now documented about the danger of eating certain species of locally caught fish – known to be contaminated from legacy mercury from gold mining – into the hands and minds of women, children and their care givers.
To learn more about our Outreach Programs, contact Amber Taxiera at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 265-8454 x 216
Health Outreach Program Report – The Sierra Fund’s 1-year pilot outreach program about environmental health threats associated with abandoned mines
Angler Survey Project – The Sierra Fund’s study to learn about mercury exposure potential from eating locally caught fish
Trails Assessment Project – The Sierra Fund’s study to learn about exposure potential from recreating on trails that go through historic mine sites
Fish Consumption Advisories – State-issued fish consumption advisories for lakes, reservoirs and rivers in California
Fish Consumption Advisory Posting Project – The Sierra Fund’s project to post fish consumption advisories at public fishing locations in the Sierra
Mercury Trainings for Healthcare Professionals – The Sierra Fund’s program to educate regional doctors about mercury in the human body, and how to talk to their patients about eating fish
Frequently Asked Questions – For concerned citizens