Heavy metals like lead and mercury—along with other contaminants—are making their way into traditional foods in First Nation communities in Canada’s Arctic and subarctic regions, posing a potential risk to human health.
The Persistent Organic Pollutant Exposures project examines the link between the consumption of traditional foods and contaminant exposure of First Nation people in Old Crow, Yukon, as well as the Dehcho and Sahtú regions of the Northwest Territories. This project furthers understanding of the ways traditional food consumption patterns impact contaminant exposure in First Nation people.
The project uses a process called biomonitoring which is the measurement—in people—of a chemical (Canada.ca). Hazardous chemicals that stay in the environment for a long time because they don’t break down easily (called persistent organic pollutants or POPS) are harmful to human health. The project examines factors influencing human exposure levels to the contaminants. Community connections are important in this work. Community forums are held to share findings and ask community leaders to identify priorities for the measurement of new contaminants from project samples stored in a biobank.