Methylmercury risk and awareness among American Indian women of childbearing age living on an inland northwest reservation.

 American Indian women and children may be the most overrepresented among the list of disparate populations exposed to methylmercury. American Indian people fish on home reservations where a state or tribal fishing license (a source of advisory messaging) is not required. The purpose of this study was to examine fish consumption, advisory awareness, and risk communication preferences among American Indian women of childbearing age living on an inland Northwest reservation. For this cross-sectional descriptive study, participants (N=65) attending a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic were surveyed between March and June 2006. An electronic questionnaire adapted from Anderson et al. (2004) was evaluated for cultural acceptability and appropriateness by tribal consultants. Regarding fish consumption, approximately half of the women surveyed (49%) indicated eating locally caught fish with the majority signifying they consumed medium- and large-size fish (75%) that could result in exposure to methylmercury. In addition, a serendipitous discovery indicated that an unanticipated route of exposure may be fish provided from a local food bank resulting from sportsman's donations. The majority of women (80%) were unaware of tribal or state fish advisory messages; the most favorable risk communication preference was information coming from doctors or healthcare providers (78%). Since the population consumes fish and has access to locally caught potentially contaminated fish, a biomonitoring study to determine actual exposure is warranted