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Environ Int. 2013 Sep;59:33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2013.05.010. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Body burden of metals and persistent organic pollutants among Inuit in the Canadian Arctic.

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Center for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics, University of Ottawa, 20 Marie-Curie, Ottawa, ON Canada.


Inuit living in the Arctic are exposed to elevated levels of environmental contaminants primarily due to long-range atmospheric transport. Blood sampling and contaminant biomonitoring was conducted as part of the International Polar Year Inuit Health Survey in 2007-2008. The body burden of metals (e.g. Cd, Pb) and persistent organic pollutants (e.g. PCBs, DDT & DDE, toxaphene, chlordane, PBDEs) were measured for Inuit participants (n=2172) from 36 communities in Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, in Canada. The geometric mean of blood concentrations for Cd, Pb, PCBs, DDE & DDT, toxaphene, and chlordane were higher than those in the Canadian general population. A total of 9% of study participants exceeded the intervention guideline of 100μgL(-1) for Pb, 11% of participants exceeded the trigger guideline of 5μgL(-1) for Cd, and 1% exceeded the intervention guideline of 100μgL(-1) for PCBs. Also, 3% of women of child-bearing age exceeded blood Pb of 100μgL(-1) while 28% of women of child-bearing age exceeded 5μgL(-1) of PCBs. This work showed that most Inuit Health Survey participants were below blood contaminant guidelines set by Health Canada but that metal and POP body burdens commonly exceed exposures observed in the general population of Canada.


AMAP; Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme; Blood; CHMS; Canadian Health Measures Survey; Child-bearing age; Contaminant; DDE; DDT; Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene; Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane; Guideline; IPY; ISR; International Polar Year; Inuvialuit Settlement Region; OC; OHSA; Occupational Safety and Health Administration; Organochlorine; PBDE; PCB; POP; Persistent Organic Pollutant; Polybrominated diphenyl ether; Polychlorinated biphenyl; QAQC; Quality Assurance Quality Control; Trigger; Women

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