Exposure of the Inuit population of Nunavik (Arctic Quebec) to lead and mercury

Arch Environ Health. Jul-Aug 2001;56(4):350-7. doi: 10.1080/00039890109604467.

Abstract

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 < .001) and, to a lesser extent, with blood lead levels (r = .31, p < .001). Analyses of variance further revealed that smoking, age, and consumption of waterfowl were associated with lead concentrations (r2 = .30, p < .001), whereas age and consumption of seal and beluga whale were related to total mercury levels (r2 = .30, p < .001). A significant proportion of reproductive-age women had lead and mercury concentrations that exceeded those that have been reportedly associated with subtle neurodevelopmental deficits in other populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Ducks
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Geese
  • Humans
  • Inuits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Lead / blood*
  • Lead Poisoning / blood*
  • Lead Poisoning / ethnology
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Mercury / blood*
  • Mercury Poisoning / blood*
  • Mercury Poisoning / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood / analysis
  • Seals, Earless
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Whales

Substances

  • Lead
  • Mercury