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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2004 Apr 23-May 28;67(8-10):791-808.

The importance of marine foods to a near-urban first nation community in coastal British Columbia, Canada: toward a risk-benefit assessment.

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Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada.


There is increasing concern that some subsistence-oriented consumer groups may be exposed to elevated levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) through the consumption of certain traditional foods, including fish and other aquatic resources. Exposure to POPs has been associated with adverse health effects including immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and altered development in moderate to highly exposed humans and wildlife. The Sencoten (Saanich) First Nation consists of approximately 1900 people inhabiting communities in a near-urban setting in coastal British Columbia, Canada. A survey was conducted to document the relative importance of traditional foods in the diet of the Sencoten people, as a basis for the future assessment of exposure to, and risks associated with, environmental contaminants in such a diet. Salmon represented 42% of the total marine meals, but at least 24 other marine species were also consumed. Our study suggests that traditional marine foods remain very important to the social and economic well-being of the Sencoten, despite their proximity to an urban center. This information will be of value to those interested in nutritional, cultural, and health issues concerning subsistence-oriented First Nations peoples, and provides an important first step in risk assessment.

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