– Feb. 15, 2023 –

Study recruits Brunswick residents

Home to four Superfund sites, the Brunswick area has a long history of environmental contamination from local industry. The region’s dolphins have been studied and found to carry a heavy load of toxic chemicals, including Aroclor 1268, a mixture of PCBs used only at the Brunswick LCP site. But there has never been a study of Brunswick residents to determine if the environmental contaminants have entered people’s bodies.

Until now.

Emory University researchers in partnership with Rebuilding Together Glynn County and other local organizations are recruiting participants to learn if residents have been exposed to potentially harmful chemicals at a level that is higher than in other places.

Participants will complete a short questionnaire and provide a blood sample for analysis. In return they’ll receive a $50 Walmart gift card, their individual test results of pollutants measured in their blood sample, an invitation to meetings that will report the overall findings plus a packet of materials on how to reduce their exposure to chemicals.

Participants must be at least 18, live in the Brunswick area now and have lived there at least 10 years total.

“We are pleased that we can respond to community concerns about environmental pollution in Brunswick” said Glynn County Commissioner and The Community First Planning Commission Board Member Allen Booker in a press release announcing the study. “Local organizations designed this study in partnership with Emory scientists, and we are hopeful that the study will provide residents with some of the information they are looking for.”

This study is funded by the Emory University Exposome Research Center and is being led by Dr. Noah Scovronick and Dr. Dana Barr. For more information or to apply visit bit.ly/912health or email brunswickexposure@emory.edu or call 404-727-0250.

Another whale death

After a promising start to the North Atlantic right whale calving season with a dozen calves spotted in the Southeast, bad news has prevailed for these highly endangered whales. One of those calves was found dead in North Carolina, then responders had to free two adult males from entanglement in fishing gear. Despite successful disentanglements, one whale was left with serious injuries from the rope that had wrapped tightly around his tail. He hasn’t been seen again. Then on Sunday another right whale, a 20-year-old male known as #3343, was found dead on the beach in Virginia Beach, the Virginian-Pilot reported. A necropsy was performed Monday to try to determine the cause of death.

The North Atlantic right whale is the Georgia state marine mammal. But only about 340 individuals remain. The leading causes of death and injury are human related: vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. Researchers stress that the whales need better protections because the remaining 70 adult females can’t reproduce fast enough to make up for the deaths seen in recent years.

Wood storks rebound

Right whales are struggling, but things are looking up for wood storks, a bird that’s become a more common sight on the Georgia Coast over the last few decades.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the wood stork from the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Wood storks (Mycteria americana) are the only species of stork that breeds in the U.S.

Coastal Georgia hosts several wood stork rookeries, including one at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge where wooden platforms built over an alligator-filled pond enticed the birds to nest.

The birds, which had declined dramatically before getting federal protections in 1984, now have more than 11,000 nesting pairs in Florida, Georgia and other Southeastern states.

“The wood stork is recovering as the result of protecting its habitat at a large scale,” Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz said in a press release. “This iconic species has rebounded in part because dedicated partners in the Southeast have worked tirelessly to restore ecosystems, such as the Everglades, that support it.”

The southern U.S. is the northernmost part of the species’ range. Previously found only south of Lake Okeechobee in Florida, they have expanded their breeding range as far north as North Carolina in recent decades.

“Although causes for such population expansion are poorly understood, climate change may be playing a role,” the web site avianreport.com notes.

Wood storks feeding their young at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Briefly noted:

Check out the artwork created by Georgia State University’s Pam Longobardi, who uses plastic recovered from beaches to send a message about ocean pollution, as she writes in The Conversation. Her work was exhibited at Savannah’s Telfair Museum in 2018.

Want to comment to state regulators on plans to mine near the Okefenokee? The state Environmental Protection Division will hold online meetings at 6 p.m. Feb. 21 and 23. Register online at this web site.

Glass recycling got a little easier recently in Savannah with the addition of four new drop-off bins around town. The glass is upcycled in South Carolina into an aerated rock used in construction. The new drop off sites bring the total to six Savannah locations:

Bacon Park Transfer Station- 6400 Skidaway Rd

Barnes Restaurant- 5320 Waters Ave.

Capital Street Fire Station- 2235 Capital St.

Congregation Agudath Achim- 9 Lee Blvd

Dean Forest Road Landfill- 1327 Dean Forest Rd.

Coffee Bluff Fire Station- 13710 Coffee Bluff Rd.

If you have feedback, questions, concerns, or just like what you see, let us know at thecurrentga@gmail.com.

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Mary Landers covers Coastal Georgia’s environment for The Current, a topic she covered for nearly 24 years at the Savannah Morning News, where she began and ended her time there writing about health,...