Thursday, July 28, 2011

Presentations, Posters and Parties

The fourth and final full day at the conference was packed with presentations, posters, and parties!

The morning special session focused on mercury in fish. The presentations addressed the importance of ecological and physiological characteristics in determining mercury concentrations. Factors such as habitat, growth rate, and trophic level may explain the variation in mercury levels in and among species. For example, mercury concentrations are influenced by the physical environment and where a particular species is found on the food chain. The findings are consistent with the current thinking behind consumption advisories that recommend eating smaller fish like sardines and anchovies that are found lower in the food chain.

Following the morning session was the first 'poster hour' of the day. KidSafe Seafood was featured among the posters addressing socio-economic factors affecting mercury exposure and risk (S19). Many people were eager to weigh in on the consumption debate, discussing the many challenges and benefits to creating comprehensive guidelines. KidSafe Seafood received several accolades for our three-pronged approach, combining contaminant, environmental and health interests in our recommendations. Whereas many of the posters presented purely scientific research, KidSafe Seafood provided an applied approach, using the scientific information to provide public health guidance. As such, the poster attracted much interest, and praise, from the attendees.

After a quick lunch, we all hustled back to catch the afternoon special session. The health effects of mercury series was a two hour crash course in biogeochemistry! Each of the presentations addressed the complex interactions that go on in and between individuals (i.e. between mother and fetus/nursing child). Mercury, a known neurotoxin, disrupts normal body function, creating several health risks. Furthermore, the environment in which we live and our genetics play a significant role in how we respond to mercury exposure.

Later that night, the entire conference hung up their thinking caps for the evening for a gala at the historic citadel overlooking downtown Halifax. We were treated to a demonstration by the citadel guards, dressed head to toe in traditional uniform. The conversations continued as we loaded up our plates with tasty treats and filled our glasses. The sun slowly fell below the horizon as the night wore on, fueled by good company, good food, and lively conversation.

Keep reading to find out what exciting adventures are in store for the final day of the conference!

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