Environmental health

9 January 2008

Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2004 : Perception of Contaminants, Participation in Hunting and Fishing Activities, and Potential Impacts of Climate Change

The activities of hunting, fishing and collection of resources from the land and sea are of central importance to the health of Inuit in Nunavik. For approximately twenty years now, confidence in these resources and Inuit access to them have been threatened by reports of environmental contaminants in wildlife, social and economic trends influencing the time available to hunt and fish, and more recently, reports of climate change and variability and influences on the availability and accessibility of wildlife resources. This summary focuses on the information on these issues contained in the Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2004.

Country foods, and the activities (hunting and fishing) to collect, distribute and prepare them for consumption, are still important aspects of everyday life in Nunavik communities today. They are important for their social and cultural value, formal and informal economic worth, and what they represent in terms of their contributions to physical, social a…

9 January 2008

Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2004/Qanuippitaa? How are we? Exposure to Environmental Contaminants in Nunavik: Persistent Organic Pollutants and New Contaminants of Concern

The Inuit of Nunavik are exposed to metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that are carried from southern to northern latitudes by oceanic and atmospheric transport and biomagnified in Arctic food webs. As the Inuit traditional diet comprises large amounts of tissues from marine mammals, fish and terrestrial wild game, the Inuit are more exposed to these contaminants than populations living in southern regions. The traditional suite of legacy POPs comprises polychlorinated dibenzo p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorinated pesticides whereas emerging POPs include perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), halogenated phenolic compounds (HPCs) and brominated flame retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Legacy POPs have been found to be neurotoxic, carcinogenic, hepatotoxic and have reproductive, endocrine and immunotoxic effects. Human health effects of emerging POPs are mostly unknown, but animal stud…

15 September 2005

The Use of Chrysotile Asbestos in Quebec

In 1997, in light of international developments with respect to asbestos, the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (Québec's department of health and social services) set up the Comité aviseur sur l'amiante (asbestos advisory committee) to make recommendations concerning appropriate measures for informing the public about the asbestos situation in Québec and protecting public health in this regard. To carry out this mandate, the committee conducted a number of studies. These were synthesized in three documents that may be consulted on the website of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) (De Guire et al., 2003; Lajoieet al., 2003; De Guire & Lajoie, 2003).

In 2002, the Québec government adopted a Politique d'utilisation accrue et sécuritaire de l'amiante chrysotile (Policy concerning the increased and safe use of chrysotile asbestos). As the name indicates, the objective of this policy is to increase the…

29 March 2005

Exposure and Preliminary Health Assessments of the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Population to Mine Tailings Residues: Report of the Survey

The Cree community of Oujé-Bougoumou is located approximately 60 kilometres west of Chibougamau and comprises 622 residents. There was, for this community, a potential exposure to toxic substances derived from tailings residues left behind from mining operations in the mid 1950s.

Confronted with this potential exposure, the Grand Council of the Crees commissioned an environmental contamination study, which was conducted by Christopher L. Covel from CL COVEL PG LLC and Roger D. Masters from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. This study indicated mobilization of toxic elements from mine tailings residues and suggested possible impacts on human health.

The report produced by this study was subsequently critically reviewed by Evert Nieboer of McMaster University who endorsed the environmental conclusions, but not the interpretation of the data on contaminants in hair on which the human health risk judgement had been based. A 2001 survey by the Quebec Ministry of…