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Last Updated September 15, 2015

Northern Contaminants Program

Canadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Report II (2003)

Volume 2: Human Health

Full Document

 

Executive Summary     i

Résumé     v

 

1 Introduction     1

1.1 Objectives and reason for concern 1

1.2 Aboriginal peoples of northern Canada 2

1.3 Aboriginal perspectives on food and health 4

1.4 Factors contributing to the exposure of Aboriginal peoples to environmental contaminants in traditional/country food 4

1.5 Evaluation of research in CACAR and application to benefit and risk assessment/management 7

1.6 Research ethics 8

 

2 Exposure Assessment     11

2.1 Dietary information 11

2.1.1 Dietary survey results in Dene and Métis, Yukon, and Inuit communities 12

2.2 Contaminant levels in people and their relationship to traditional/country food diets 13

2.2.1 Levels of persistent organic pollutants in maternal and cord blood 13

2.2.2 Levels of mercury in hair and blood 21

2.2.3 Levels of selenium in maternal blood 25

2.2.4 Levels of lead in maternal blood 25

2.2.5 Levels of cadmium in maternal blood 25

2.2.6 Radionuclide exposure 26

2.3 Trends in traditional/country food dietary intakes and contaminant exposures 29

 

3 Toxicology     31

3.1 Dose-response studies on priority contaminants for which there are limited data 31

3.1.1 Toxaphene 31

3.1.2 Chlordane compounds 33

3.2 Toxicological effects induced by exposure to food-chain contaminant mixtures 35

3.2.1 Overview 35

3.2.2 Developmental toxicity study using the pig as the animal model 36

3.2.3 Experimental study in rats and a toxicokinetic modelling framework 38

3.3 Contaminant and dietary nutrient interactions 39

3.3.1 Dietary nutrients and methylmercury toxicity 39

3.3.2 Methylmercury and selenium interactions 41

3.3.3 Other contaminants and dietary nutrient interactions 43

 

4 Epidemiology and Biomarkers     45

4.1 Immune system function 46

4.1.1 Clinical outcomes 46

4.1.2 Biomarkers 47

4.2 Neurodevelopment 49

4.2.1 Clinical outcomes 49

4.2.2 Biomarkers of developmental effects 51

4.3 Sex hormone disruption 53

4.3.1 Clinical outcomes 54

4.3.2 Hormonal biomarkers 55

4.4 Oxidative stress 55

 

5 Risk and Benefit Characterization, Assessment and Advice     59

5.1 Contaminant exposure risks 59

5.1.1 Persistent organic pollutants 60

5.1.2 Toxic metals — mercury, cadmium and lead 64

5.1.3 Radionuclides 67

5.2 Nutritional benefits of traditional/country food 68

5.3 Social, cultural, spiritual and economic benefits of traditional/country food 71

5.4 Assessment of perceptions of risks, benefits and safety of traditional/country foods 73

5.4.1 Introduction 73

5.4.2 Differences in perceptions among individuals 73

5.4.3 Perceptions of risks in the North 74

5.4.4 Research on the perceptions of food-chain contamination in the North 74

5.4.5 Impacts of these perceptions 75

5.5 Benefit and risk management framework for the Northern Contaminants Program 76

5.5.1 Risk management frameworks 76

5.5.2 Problem identification and context 77

5.5.3 Benefit and risk assessment 77

5.5.4 Risk characterization 79

5.5.5 Weighing benefits and risks — challenges in practice 80

5.5.6 Option analysis/evaluation 80

5.5.7 Selecting a risk management option 80

5.5.8 Implementation 81

5.5.9 Monitoring and evaluating the decision 81

5.6 Benefit and risk communication 81

 

6 Quality Assurance and Quality Control Aspects of NCP Human Health Studies     87

6.1 Introduction 87

6.2 Internal quality control activities 88

6.3 External data quality assurance 89

6.3.1 Northern Contaminants Interlaboratory Quality Assurance (QA) Program 89

6.3.2 Centre de Toxicologie du Québec — Interlaboratory Comparison Program 90

6.3.3 Hair Mercury Quality Control Program 91

6.4 Dietary surveys and measurements 93

 

7 Conclusions     95

7.1 Introduction 95

7.1.1 Aboriginal peoples of Canada 95

7.1.2 Aboriginal perspectives on food and health 95

7.1.3 Factors contributing to exposure to traditional/country food contamination 95

7.1.4 Evaluation of research in CACAR and its application to benefit and risk assessment/management 95

7.1.5 Research ethics 95

7.2 Exposure assessment 96

7.2.1 Dietary information 96

7.2.2 Tissue contaminant levels 96

7.2.3 Trends in traditional/country food dietary intakes and contaminant exposures 97

7.3 Toxicology 97

7.3.1 Toxicological effects from exposure to contaminant mixtures 97

7.3.2 Contaminant and dietary nutrient interactions 97

7.4 Epidemiology and biomarkers 98

7.5 Risk and benefit characterization, assessment and advice 99

7.5.1 Contaminant exposure risks 99

7.5.2 Nutritional benefits of a traditional/country food diet 100

7.5.3 Social, cultural, and spiritual benefits of traditional/country food diet 100

7.5.4 Assessment of peoples’ perceptions of risks, benefits, and safety of traditional/country foods 100

7.5.5 Benefit and risk management and assessment framework 101

7.5.6 Benefit and risk communication 101

7.6 Quality assurance and quality control 101

 

8 Knowledge Gaps     103

8.1 Exposure assessment 103

8.1.1 Persistent organic pollutants 103

8.1.2 Mercury 103

8.1.3 Radionuclides 103

8.2 Toxicology 103

8.2.1 Toxaphene 103

8.2.2 Chlordane 104

8.2.3 Organochlorine mixtures 104

8.2.4 Contaminant and dietary nutrient interactions 104

8.3 Epidemiology 104

8.4 Risk and benefit characterization, assessment and advice 105

 

References     107