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Toxic inequities: risk, regulation, and environmental justice in the Great Lakes

April 30, 2018 @ 12:20 pm - 1:10 pm

Nancy Langston
Nancy Langston
Nancy Langston

Join us as we welcome Nancy Langston, environmental historian at Michigan Technological University, as she gives a lecture in the Program in the History of Medicine’s lunchtime lecture series on her current research on environmental health and environmental policy in the Great Lakes region. 

Participants are welcome to visit the Wangensteen Historical Library’s Underwater exhibit (located adjacent to the talk) before or after the lecture to explore the history of humans, health, and science in watery places. 

What: Toxic inequities: risk, regulation, and environmental justice in the Great Lakes
When: Monday, April 30, 2018; 12:20 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.
Where: Diehl Hall, Room 555

Free and open to the public.

About the speaker

Nancy Langston is a Professor at Michigan Technological University and is part of the Great Lakes Research Center and the Department of Social Sciences. She worked previously at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 17 years, with appointments in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology. Her most recent book, Sustaining Lake Superior (Yale University Press, Fall 2017), examines climate change and toxics in the Lake Superior basin.   

About the talk

As Flint has made all too clear, exposure to water-borne toxic chemicals is not equitably distributed across human communities in the Great Lakes.

Because consumption of fish is an important vector of human exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, Indigenous communities with high levels of fish consumption face particular risks of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Many endocrine-disrupting chemicals move from their sites of production and consumption into much broader and dispersed spaces, making their regulation challenging. As they move into water, they bioaccumulate in fish, and eventually make their way into the people who eat that fish

In Canada and the United States, governments address the potential risks posed by endocrine disruptor contamination in fish by issuing fish advisories based on quantitative risk assessment protocols.

Indigenous communities suspicious of these risk assessments have typically been dismissed as ignorant and excluded from the decision-making process. This talk uses the history of toxic fish to explore the relationships between risk, regulation, and Indigenous communities in the Great Lakes.

Event sponsors


April 30, 2018
12:20 pm - 1:10 pm
Event Category:


Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine


Wangensteen Historical Library, 555 Diehl Hall
505 Essex St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455 United States
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