The nongenotoxic classification for the ubiquitous environmental contaminants polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) implies that a toxicity threshold may exist. Therefore, a minimal risk level or tolerable daily intake (TDI) value can be estimated by identifying no observable adverse effect levels (NOAELs) from animal toxicological investigations and extrapolating this dose to humans by the use of safety factors. When available, data from epidemiological investigations are utilized and carry a larger "weighting" than the animal studies (i.e., smaller safety factors required). A complete database review for the most toxic congener of this class of halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), yields a NOAEL of 1.0 ng/kg body wt/day for rat carcinogenicity (Kociba et al., Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 46, 279-303, 1978) and reproductive toxicity (Murray et al., Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 50, 241-252, 1979) effects. By employing a 100-fold safety factor to compensate for inter- and intraspecies variability, a tentative TDI value can be estimated at 10 pg/kg body wt/day. For food intake purposes, a total of 17 2,3,7,8-substituted PCDD/PCDF congeners are included in this estimate by using an additive toxic equivalency (TEQ) approach based on international toxic equivalency factors (I-TEFs) developed by NATO (NATO Report No. 178, 1988). This implies that averaged over an individual's total lifespan (estimated at 70 years), 600 pg TCDD TEQs can be taken in daily (60 kg average body weight) without appreciable risk of deleterious effects. The current estimated Canadian daily intake for PCDDs and PCDFs from all sources is 2.0-4.2 pg TCDD TEQs/kg body wt/day (Gilman et al., Chemosphere 23, 1661-1667, 1990). Recent comprehensive epidemiological studies involving industrial/occupational scenarios suggest an increased cancer risk for workers exposed to TCDD-contaminated processes (products contaminated with TCDD) but only at relatively high exposure levels with long latency periods when compared to the background population. To date, the only sustained toxic effect in humans associated with PCDD/PCDF exposure has been chloracne and related dermatological lesions.
One of the major goals of the Great Lakes Action Plan is to actively accumulate and assess toxicological information on persistent toxic substances found in the Great Lakes basin. As part of Health Canada's commitment to this plan, a review of biomarkers for the environmental contaminants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins/dibenzofurans (PCDDs/PCDFs) was conducted. In general, while food consumption was identified as the major source of human exposure to both contaminant groups, certain commodities, such as fish, milk and dairy products, and meat, were found to predominate. Due to the ubiquitous nature of these environmental contaminants and their propensity to bioaccumulate, all humans will have detectable body burdens, which in certain cases can be positively associated with the consumption of particular foods (i.e., PCBs and freshwater fish from the Great Lakes). When dealing with environmental exposure only, relating specific effect biomarkers to contaminant exposure or tissue levels was difficult, due in part to the complex nature of the exposure and the nonspecific nature of the effect. For PCBs, the most likely biomarkers of effect included some form of alteration in lipid metabolism (serum triglyceride/cholesterol levels) and elevation of hepatic-related enzymes, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). Cross-species extrapolation also indicates the potential for neurotoxicologic effects to occur in humans. For PCDDs/PCDFs, dermatologic lesions (chloracne) and indications of hepatic enzyme induction have been documented, but primarily due to occupational or high acute accidental exposures. Recent evidence suggests that neonates may represent a potential at-risk population due to relatively high exposure to PCDDs/PCDFs, as with PCBs, during breast feeding as compared to standard adult dietary intake. Future areas of potential benefit for biomarker development include immunologic and endocrine effects, primarily based on biologic plausibility from experimental animal research.
A total of 154 food composite samples from the 2008 total diet study in Quebec City were analysed for bisphenol A (BPA), and BPA was detected in less than half (36%, or 55 samples) of the samples tested. High concentrations of BPA were found mostly in the composite samples containing canned foods, with the highest BPA level being observed in canned fish (106 ng g(-1)), followed by canned corn (83.7 ng g(-1)), canned soups (22.2-44.4 ng g(-1)), canned baked beans (23.5 ng g(-1)), canned peas (16.8 ng g(-1)), canned evaporated milk (15.3 ng g(-1)), and canned luncheon meats (10.5 ng g(-1)). BPA levels in baby food composite samples were low, with 2.75 ng g(-1) in canned liquid infant formula, and 0.84-2.46 ng g(-1) in jarred baby foods. BPA was also detected in some foods that are not canned or in jars, such as yeast (8.52 ng g(-1)), baking powder (0.64 ng g(-1)), some cheeses (0.68-2.24 ng g(-1)), breads and some cereals (0.40-1.73 ng g(-1)), and fast foods (1.1-10.9 ng g(-1)). Dietary intakes of BPA were low for all age-sex groups, with 0.17-0.33 µg kg(-1) body weight day(-1) for infants, 0.082-0.23 µg kg(-1) body weight day(-1) for children aged from 1 to 19 years, and 0.052-0.081 µg kg(-1) body weight day(-1) for adults, well below the established regulatory limits. BPA intakes from 19 of the 55 samples account for more than 95% of the total dietary intakes, and most of the 19 samples were either canned or in jars. Intakes of BPA from non-canned foods are low.
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 objectives of this paper are to: assess the impact of exposure to current levels of environmental contaminants in the Canadian Arctic on human health; identify the data and knowledge gaps that need to be filled by future human health research and monitoring; examine how these issues have changed since our first assessment [Van Oostdam, J., Gilman, A., Dewailly, E., Usher, P., Wheatley, B., Kuhnlein, H. et al., 1999. Human health implications of environmental contaminants in Arctic Canada: a review. Sci Total Environ 230, 1-82]. The primary exposure pathway for contaminants for various organochlorines (OCs) and toxic metals is through the traditional northern diet. Exposures tend to be higher in the eastern than the western Canadian Arctic. In recent dietary surveys among five Inuit regions, mean intakes by 20- to 40-year-old adults in Baffin, Kivalliq and Inuvialuit communities exceeded the provisional tolerable daily intakes (pTDIs) for the OCs, chlordane and toxaphene. The most recent findings in NWT and Nunavut indicate that almost half of the blood samples from Inuit mothers exceeded the level of concern value of 5 microg/L for PCBs, but none exceeded the action level of 100 microg/L. For Dene/M?tis and Caucasians of the Northwest Territories exposure to OCs are mostly below this level of concern. Based on the exceedances of the pTDI and of various blood guidelines, mercury and to a lesser extent lead (from the use of lead shot in hunting game) are also concerns among Arctic peoples. The developing foetus is likely to be more sensitive to the effects of OCs and metals than adults, and is the age groups of greatest risk in the Arctic. Studies of infant development in Nunavik have linked deficits in immune function, an increase in childhood respiratory infections and birth weight to prenatal exposure to OCs. Balancing the risks and benefits of a diet of country foods is very difficult. The nutritional benefits of country food and its contribution to the total diet are substantial. Country food contributes significantly more protein, iron and zinc to the diets of consumers than southern/market foods. The increase in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease has been linked to a shift away from a country food diet and a less active lifestyle. These foods are an integral component of good health among Aboriginal peoples. The social, cultural, spiritual, nutritional and economic benefits of these foods must be considered in concert with the risks of exposure to environmental contaminants through their exposure. Consequently, the contamination of country food raises problems which go far beyond the usual confines of public health and cannot be resolved simply by risk-based health advisories or food substitutions alone. All decisions should involve the community and consider many aspects of socio-cultural stability to arrive at a decision that will be the most protective and least detrimental to the communities.