Friday, June 8, 2018

Albertson to receive national health award

The National Environmental Health Association will recognize Bethel Cooperative Extension agent Leif Albertson for his work educating the public and agency professionals about the health risks associated with the use of lead rifle ammunition.

Leif Albertson
Albertson will receive the Joe Beck Educational Contribution Award on June 27 at the association’s annual conference in Anaheim, California. Albertson has developed educational materials and given presentations on the lead exposure risks associated with eating large game animals.

“In recent years, we’ve come to understand that lead is toxic at much lower levels than we previously understood,” he said. “This has raised questions about the human health risks of lead rifle ammunition.” 

Lead exposure has been linked to cognitive and developmental delays in children and other health problems. Tests done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that eating venison and other game meat can raise the amount of lead in human bodies by 50 percent.

Albertson noted that because remote Alaskans consume enormous amounts of game meat, they are at particular risk from lead rifle ammunition. Albertson has advocated the use of copper rifle ammunition as a substitutue for traditional lead-core ammunition.

A news release from the association said, “The committee was so impressed by Mr. Albertson's innovative recognition of a lead exposure hazard that was unique to Alaska's population and the educational response to mitigate the hazard … His educational focus impacted hunters, meat consumers, public health professionals and the medical community's lead assessment process.”

The National Environmental Health Association is a professional society for environmental health professionals. Albertson has a master’s degree in public health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the incoming president of the Alaska Environmental Health Association and a past president of the Alaska Public Health Association. He is a health, home and family development agent for the UAF Cooperative Extension Service.

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