In this study, we identified the main hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (OH-PCBs) and other chlorinated phenolic compounds and we determined their relative concentrations in whole blood from 13 male and 17 female Inuit from northern Quebec, Canada, and from a pooled whole blood sample from southern Quebec. We also determined concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Total OH-PCB concentrations were variable among the Inuit samples, ranging over 2 orders of magnitude (0.117-11.6 ng/g whole blood wet weight). These concentrations were equal to and up to 70 times those found for the southern Quebec pooled whole blood sample. Geometric mean concentrations of total OH-PCBs were 1.73 and 1.01 ng/g whole blood for Inuit men and women, respectively, and 0.161 ng/g whole blood for the southern population pool. There are limited data available for comparison, but the levels of OH-PCBs in Inuit are higher than those previously reported in the literature for other populations. There was a significant correlation (p
We evaluated alveolar carbon monoxide (CO) levels of 122 male, adult hockey players active in recreational leagues of the Quebec City region (Canada), before and after 10 weekly 90-minute games in 10 different rinks. We also determined exposure by quantifying the average CO level in the rink during the games. Other variables documented included age, pulmonary function, aerobic capacity, and smoking status. Environmental concentrations varied from 1.6 to 131.5 parts per million (ppm). We examined the absorption/exposure relationship using a simple linear regression model. In low CO exposure levels, physical exercise lowered the alveolar CO concentration. However, we noted that for each 10 ppm of CO in the ambient air, the players had adsorbed enough CO to raise their carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels by 1 percent. This relationship was true both for smokers and non-smokers. We suggest that an average environmental concentration of 20 ppm of CO for the duration of a hockey game (90 minutes) should be reference limit not to be exceeded in indoor skating rinks.
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Organochlorine compounds bioaccumulate in fishing and hunting products included in the daily diet of many coastal populations. Prenatal and perinatal exposure to large doses of PCBs and PCDFs was shown to be deleterious on fetal and neonatal development, but information is scarce regarding possible effects of chronic low-dose exposure. This study investigates biomarkers of early effects in newborns from women exposed to organochlorines through the consumption of species from marine food chains, in two remote coastal regions of the province of Quebec (Canada). A CYP1A1-dependent enzyme activity (EROD) and DNA adducts were measured in placenta samples obtained from 30 women living on the Lower-North-Shore of the St. Lawrence River and 22 Inuit women from Nunavik (Arctic Quebec). These biomarkers were also assessed in 30 women from a Quebec urban center (Sept-Iles) as a reference group. Prenatal organochlorine exposure was determined by measuring these compounds in umbilical cord plasma. The amount of bulky polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-related DNA adducts was significantly greater in the Lower-North-Shore group than in the reference group. Placental EROD activity and the amount of less bulky (OC-related) DNA adducts were significantly higher in the Nunavik group than in the reference group. For both biomarkers, smoking was found to be an important confounding factor. Organochlorine exposure was significantly associated with EROD activity and DNA adduct levels when stratifying for smoking. This study confirms that CYP1A1 enzyme induction and DNA adducts in placental tissue constitute useful biomarkers of early effects induced by environmental exposure to organochlorines.
The third Canadian Arctic Human Health Assessment conducted under the Canadian Northern Contaminants Program (NCP), in association with the circumpolar Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), addresses concerns about possible adverse health effects in individuals exposed to environmental contaminants through a diet containing country foods. The objectives here are to: 1) provide data on changes in human contaminant concentrations and exposure among Canadian Arctic peoples; 2) identify new contaminants of concern; 3) discuss possible health effects; 4) outline risk communication about contaminants in country food; and 5) identify knowledge gaps for future contaminant research and monitoring. The nutritional and cultural benefits of country foods are substantial; however, some dietary studies suggest declines in the amount of country foods being consumed. Significant declines were found for most contaminants in maternal blood over the last 10years within all three Arctic regions studied. Inuit continue to have the highest levels of almost all persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and metals among the ethnic groups studied. A greater proportion of people in the East exceed Health Canada's guidelines for PCBs and mercury, although the proportion of mothers exceeding these guidelines has decreased since the previous assessment. Further monitoring and research are required to assess trends and health effects of emerging contaminants. Infant development studies have shown possible subtle effects of prenatal exposure to heavy metals and some POPs on immune system function and neurodevelopment. New data suggest important beneficial effects on brain development for Inuit infants from some country food nutrients. The most successful risk communication processes balance the risks and benefits of a diet of country food through input from a variety of regional experts and the community, to incorporate the many socio-cultural and economic factors to arrive at a risk management decision that will be the most beneficial in Arctic communities.
The exposure of swimmers to chloroform (CHCl3) was investigated in indoor swimming pools of the Quebec City region along with the associated carcinogenic risk. Six training sessions involving 52 competition swimmers (11 to 20 yr old) were conducted in 3 different pools, while 12 adult leisure swimmers attended 5 sessions, each held in a different pool. For each session, water and ambient air CHCl3 concentrations were measured and CHCl3 levels in alveolar air samples (CHCl3 ALV) collected from swimmers prior to entering the swimming pool premises and after 15, 35, and 60 min of swimming. Mean water concentrations varied from 18 microg/L to 80 microg/L, while those in air ranged from 78 microg/m3 to 329 microg/m3. Multiple linear regression analyses revealed that CHCl3 ALV values in competition swimmers were strongly correlated to ambient air and water levels, and to a lesser degree to the intensity of training. Only ambient air concentration was positively correlated to CHCl3 ALV in the leisure group. Concentrations of CHCl3 metabolites bound to hepatic and renal macromolecules, estimated using a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model, were 1.6 and 1.9 times higher for the competition swimmers than for the leisure swimmers, respectively. The highest hepatic concentration predicted in competition swimmers, 0.22 microg CHCl3 equivalents/kg of tissue, was at least 10,000 times lower than the smallest no observed effect level for liver tumors in animals. Data indicate that the safety margin is therefore very large, for competitive swimmers as well as for leisure swimmers.
High organochlorine concentrations have been found among the Inuit in eastern Canada and in Greenland. The present study was undertaken to assess the exposure to organochlorines in relation to age, sex, and diet in a general population sample of Inuit from Greenland. Survey data and plasma concentrations of 14 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners and 16 pesticides, including 5 toxaphene congeners, were recorded in a random population survey of 408 adult indigenous Greenlanders. In a two-stage design, the survey response rate was 66%, and 90% of those randomly selected for blood testing participated. This was equivalent to an overall response rate of 59%. The median plasma concentration of the sum of PCB congeners was 13.3 microg/L; the lipid-adjusted value was 2109 microg/kg. The PCB concentration was twice as high as among the Inuit of Nunavik, Canada, 25 times higher than in a control group from southern Canada, and several times higher than the values found in European studies. Concentrations were similarly elevated for all PCB congeners and pesticides. The PCB congener pattern was similar to previous observations from the eastern Canadian Arctic and Greenland. Concentrations showed statistically significant positive associations with age, marine diet, and male sex in multiple linear regression analyses. The exceptionally high plasma concentrations of several organochlorines among the Inuit of Greenland are attributed to a lifelong high intake of seafood, in particular marine mammals. Concentrations of PCB adjusted for the consumption of marine food increased until approximately 40 yr of age, which is equivalent to the birth cohorts of the early 1950s. The age pattern indicates that bioaccumulation of PCB started in the 1950s, which is a likely date for the introduction of the compounds into the Arctic environment.
Two remote maritime populations were evaluated for their biological exposure to organochlorines in 1989-1990. Because of their high intake of seafood, these two populations have high biological levels. One hundred nine breast milk samples from Inuit women from Arctic Québec were analyzed to determine levels of polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) including non-ortho, mono-ortho, and di-ortho congeners. Total 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TEqs) for PCBs were 3.5 times higher in Inuit milk samples than in 96 Caucasian milk samples. Among the 185 fishermen from the Lower North Shore of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River, we evaluated 10 highly exposed fishermen for their coplanar PCB blood levels. Total TEqs were 900 ng/kg for highly exposed individuals with 36 ng/kg for controls. In these two nonoccupationally exposed populations, coplanar PCBs make a larger contribution to the TEq than PCDDs and PCDFs. However, the mono-ortho penta CB No. 118 is the major contributor for the total toxicity.
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The authors conducted a survey during 1992 to evaluate blood levels of lead and mercury in Inuit adults of Nunavik (Arctic Quebec, Canada). Blood samples obtained from 492 participants (209 males and 283 females; mean age = 35 yr) were analyzed for lead and total mercury; mean (geometric) concentrations were 0.42 micromol/l (range = 0.04-2.28 micromol/l) and 79.6 nmol/l (range = 4-560 nmol/l), respectively. Concentrations of omega-3 fatty acid in plasma phospholipids--a biomarker of marine food consumption--were correlated with mercury (r = .56, p
Traditional food is culturally, economically and nutritionally important for the Greenlandic Inuit people. In the 1970s the preventive effect of marine fat on cardiovascular disease, thrombosis and atherosclerosis was described. The low incidence of ischemic heart disease among Greenlanders has been related to the high intake of marine food. Since 1990 routine autopsies have taken place in two towns in Greenland, Nuuk and Ilulissat. The autopsies represent 26% of the total number of deaths in these two towns. Samples have been collected from 104 autopsies. International cooperative studies have analysed specimens in relation to ischemic heart disease as a benefit related to diet, as well as the level of heavy metals and organochlorine in organs as a risk related to diet. High amounts of mono-unsaturated and Omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acid were found in adipose tissue. Liver analyses of selenium have confirmed the expected high intake among Greenlanders. Reduced atherosclerotic lesions were found in the coronary arteries. Blood pressure levels calculated from renovascholopathia of hypertension indicate prevailing levels similar to those in industrialized countries. Some factors in Greenland may be protecting the coronary arteries, thereby of setting the expected effect of hypertension. The level of methyl mercury in organs is generally high. PCB concentrations found in organs of Greenlanders are higher than among other populations. Health and risk effects of the traditional foods need further investigation.
We conducted this study to evaluate blood levels of lead, mercury, and organochlorine compounds in newborns in the Province of Quebec. During 1993 to 1995, we carried out a survey in 10 hospitals located in southern Quebec. During that time, umbilical cord blood samples were obtained from 1109 newborns, and we analyzed each for lead, mercury, 14 polychlorinated biphenyl congeners, and 11 chlorinated pesticides. We used the geometric mean and 95% confidence interval (CI) to describe the results. Mean concentrations of lead and mercury in cord blood were 0.076 micromol/l (95% CI = 0.074, 0.079) and 4.82 nmol/l (95% CI = 4.56, 5.08), respectively. The mean concentrations of total polychlorinated biphenyls (Aroclor 1260) and dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene were 0.514 microg/I (95% CI = .493, 0.536) and 0.412 microg/l (95% CI = 0.390, 0.435), respectively. We observed a statistically significant relationship between maternal age and cord blood concentrations of (a) lead, (b) mercury, (c) polychlorinated biphenyls, and (d) dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene. In addition, maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with cord blood lead levels. The cord blood concentrations of lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene we measured in our study were the lowest levels recently reported in industrialized countries. The results of this study underline the role of public health authorities in the evaluation of biological levels of environmental contaminants among children for the assessment of risk of adverse health effects.
Country foods are central to Inuit culture and replete in selenium (Se) and long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA). However, some marine country foods bioaccumulate high concentrations of methylmercury (MeHg). Se and n-3 are associated with several health benefits in Nunavik, Northern Quebec, but, recent studies show that prenatal MeHg exposure is associated with visual, cognitive and behavioral deficit later in childhood. The study objectives are to identify contemporary country food sources of MeHg, Se and long-chain n-3 PUFA in Nunavik, particularly among childbearing-age women, taking into account regional differences in consumption profiles. The contribution of different country foods to daily MeHg, Se, long-chain n-3 PUFA intake (µg/kg body weight/day) was estimated using: (i) country food consumption and blood biomarkers data from the 2004 Nunavik Health Survey (387 women, 315 men), and (ii) data on MeHg, Se, long-chain n-3 PUFA concentrations found in Nunavik wildlife species. In the region where most traditional beluga hunting takes place in Nunavik, the prevalence of at-risk blood Hg (= 8 µg/L) in childbearing-age women was 78.4%. While most country foods presently consumed contain low MeHg, beluga meat, not a staple of the Inuit diet, is the most important contributor to MeHg: up to two-thirds of MeHg intake in the beluga-hunting region (0.66 of MeHg intake) and to about one-third in other regions. In contrast, seal liver and beluga mattaaq - beluga skin and blubber - only mildly contributed to MeHg (between 0.06 and 0.15 of MeHg intake), depending on the region. Beluga mattaaq also highly contributed to Se intake (0.30 of Se intake). Arctic char, beluga blubber and mattaaq, and seal blubber contributed to most long-chain n-3 PUFA intake. This study highlights the importance of considering interconnections between local ecosystems and dietary habits to develop recommendations and interventions promoting country foods' benefits, while minimizing the risk of MeHg from beluga meat, especially for childbearing-age women.
Analyses completed on samples collected between 1993 and 1996 showed that about 7% of 475 Inuit newborns from northern Quebec (Canada) had a cord blood lead concentration equal to or greater than 0.48 micromol/l, an intervention level adopted by many governmental agencies. A comparison between the cord blood lead isotope ratios of Inuit and southern Quebec newborns showed that lead sources for these populations were different. Our investigation suggests that lead shots used for game hunting were an important source of lead exposure in the Inuit population. A cohort study conducted in three Inuit communities shows a significant decrease of cord blood lead concentrations after a public health intervention to reduce the use of lead shot. Lead shot ammunition can be a major and preventable source of human exposure to lead.
This article documents the exposure to environmental contaminants within sub-groups of the Canadian population who are considered to be at risk as a result of the food they eat. We measured the concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury in the blood drawn from the umbilical cords of newborns in various Aboriginal communities, in a coastal community and in the general population. Average concentrations of Aroclor 1260 ranged between 0.3 and 2.0 micrograms/L and were clearly highest among the Inuit of Nunavik and Baffin Island and among the Montagnais of Quebec. In these groups, we found contaminant levels in the blood of newborns that exceed the threshold beyond which cognitive impairments are expected to result. Average concentrations of mercury ranged between 1.0 and 14.2 micrograms/L; the Inuit of Nunavik and the NWT exhibited the highest exposure levels. A portion of the Nunavik and NWT Inuit had concentrations beyond the critical threshold for the appearance of neurological consequences. The variations in exposure levels resulted from the different nutritional practices of these Canadian sub-groups.
Indigenous people worldwide have a greater disease burden than their non-aboriginal counterparts with health challenges that include increased obesity and higher prevalence of diabetes. We investigate the relationships of dietary patterns with nutritional biomarkers, selected environmental contaminants and measures of insulin resistance in the Cree (Eeyouch) of northern Québec Canada.
The cross-sectional 'Nituuchischaayihitaau Aschii: A Multi-Community Environment-and-Health Study in Eeyou Istchee' recruited 835 adult participants (=18 y) from 7 communities in the James Bay region of northern Québec. The three dietary patterns identified by principal component analysis (PCA) were: inland and coastal patterns with loadings on traditional foods, and a junk food pattern with high-fat and high-sugar foods. We investigated dietary patterns scores (in quantiles) in relation with nutritional biomarkers, environmental contaminants, anthropometry, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose and insulin, and insulin resistance. Homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR) was used as surrogate markers of insulin resistance. ANCOVA ascertained relationships between dietary patterns relationship and outcomes. Greater scores for the traditional patterns were associated with higher levels of n-3 fatty acids, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (P trend
Unité de recherche en santé publique, Axe santé des populations et environnement, CHUQ-CHUL, Québec, QC, Canada Département de médecine sociale et préventive, Université Laval, QC, Canada Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Québec, QC, Canada Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, Kuujjuaq, QC, Canada Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec, Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Montréal, QC, Canada National Reference Center for Parasitology, McGill University Tropical Diseases Centre, Montréal, QC, Canada Montréal General Hospital, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada.
In Nunavik, common practices and food habits such as consumption of raw meat and untreated water place the Inuit at risk for contracting zoonotic diseases. The aim of this study was to determine the seroprevalence of seven zoonotic infections among the permanent residents of Nunavik. The study was conducted in the fall 2004 as part of the Nunavik Health Survey. Blood samples from adults aged 18-74 years (n = 917) were collected and analysed for the presence of antibodies against Trichinella spp., Toxocara canis, Echinococcus granulosus, Brucella spp., Coxiella burnetii, Leptospira spp. and Francisella tularensis. Information on sociodemographic characteristics, traditional activities, drinking water supply and nutrition was gathered using english/inuktitut bilingual questionnaires. The chi-squared test was used to evaluate associations between seropositivity and other measured variables. Statistically significant variables were included in a multivariate logistic regression model to control for confounding factors. Estimated seroprevalences were 8.3% for E. granulosus, 3.9% for T. canis, 5.9% for Leptospira spp. and 18.9% for F. tularensis. Seroprevalence was =1% for Trichinella spiralis, Brucella spp. and C. burnetii. For most infections, seropositivity tended to increase with age. In multivariate analyses, seroprevalence was positively (i.e. directly) associated with age and residence in the Ungava coast area for F. tularensis; age and residence in the Hudson coast area for T. canis; female gender, lower level of schooling and frequent cleaning of water reservoirs for E. granulosus. No risk factor for Leptospira spp. infection was identified. No associations were detected with regards to food habits or environmental exposures. A small but significant portion of the Nunavik population has serologic evidence of exposure to at least one of the pathogenic microorganisms investigated. Further studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms for transmission of zoonotic infections and their potential reservoirs in Nunavik.
We investigated whether organochlorine exposure is associated with the incidence of infectious diseases in Inuit infants from Nunavik (Arctic Quebec, Canada). We compiled the number of infectious disease episodes during the first year of life for 98 breast-fed and 73 bottle-fed infants. Concentrations of organochlorines were measured in early breast milk samples and used as surrogates to prenatal exposure levels. Immune system parameters were determined in venous blood samples collected from infants at 3, 7, and 12 months of age. Otitis media was the most frequent disease, with 80. 0% of breast-fed and 81.3% of bottle-fed infants experiencing at least one episode during the first year of life. During the second follow-up period, the risk of otitis media increased with prenatal exposure to p,p'-DDE, hexachlorobenzene, and dieldrin. The relative risk (RR) for 4- to 7-month-old infants in the highest tertile of p, p'-DDE exposure as compared to infants in the lowest tertile was 1. 87 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07-3.26]. The RR of otitis media over the entire first year of life also increased with prenatal exposure to p,p'-DDE (RR, 1.52; CI, 1.05-2.22) and hexachlorobenzene (RR, 1.49; CI, 1.10-2.03). Furthermore, the RR of recurrent otitis media ( [Greater/equal to] 3 episodes) increased with prenatal exposure to these compounds. No clinically relevant differences were noted between breast-fed and bottle-fed infants with regard to immunologic parameters, and prenatal organochlorine exposure was not associated with immunologic parameters. We conclude that prenatal organochlorine exposure could be a risk factor for acute otitis media in Inuit infants.
In view of the levels of human exposure to priority contaminants assessed in previous surveys in Nunavik, a series of risk reduction scenarios were produced to modelize the effects of different potential health advisories on limiting exposure of women of reproductive age to these contaminants, as well as on maximizing nutritional benefits derived from the consumption of country food. This paper presents part of the results, in particular as regards effects of reducing PCB intake by 46%, 65% and 86%.