CURRENT PROJECTS

Emerging contaminants

Nutaratsaliit qanuingisiarningit niqituinnanut (NQN) project: associations between consumption of country foods and exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances

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Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAAs) are a large family of synthethic compounds with various industrial and commercial applications. Because of their ability to repel both water and oil, PFAA are found in food packaging, non-stick pan coatins, fire-fighting foams, paper and textile coatings, as well as personal care products. PFAA are exceptionally stable and highly mobile in the environment which leads to high concentrations in the Arctic through long-range atmospheric and oceanic transport. PFAA chemcials accumulate in the food chain and have been measured in many wildlife species consumed by Inuit populations living in the Arctic. Moreover, PFAA are also degradation products of fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) which are still used in many consumer and industrial products. Therefore, despite legislation surrounding the majority of PFAA congeners, their concentrations are still concerning in the Arctic. Furthermore, a growing body of scientific literature highlights the potential health effects of PFAA exposure on thyroid function, immune response and neurodevelopment.

As part of the NQN project, I investigate the exposure of Nunavimmiut pregnant women to PFAA, and the associations between exposure to PFAA and the consumption of country foods. Country foods are an integral part of the culture in Nunavik and are crucial to sustain food security, nutrition and healthy pregnancies and infants. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that country foods can be safely consumed throughout life without increasing risk of exposure to potentially harmful contaminants. 

Principal Investigator:

Mélanie Lemire (Université Laval)

My role:

Co-Investigator

Community partners: 

Nunavik Research Centre, Makivik Corporation

Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services

Related publication:

Caron-Beaudoin, É., Ayotte, P., Blanchette, C., Muckle, G., Avard, E., Ricard, S., & Lemire, M. (2020). Perfluoroalkyl acids in pregnant women from Nunavik (Quebec, Canada): Trends in exposure and associations with country foods consumption. Environment International, 106169.

Informing and supporting integrated action on contaminants, nutrients and food security in Nunavik

Exposure to food chain contaminants in Nunavik : biomonitoring in adult and youth cohorts of the Qanuilirpitaa survey

Recent data from the NQN and Qanuilirpitaa 2017 study among Inuit adults and pregnant women reflects an increase bioaccumulation of highly persistent contaminants (e.g. mercury, PFAA) in Arctic wildlife. These projects aim to

1) Leverage existing datasets to further analyse contaminants, nutrients, food consumption and food security

2) Conduct regionally requested analyses on specific country foods identified as potential additional contributors to mercury exposure during pregnancy 

3) Support a Nunavik Action Team and conduct activities to support knowledge translation and mobilisation on contaminants, nutrients and food security for all Nunavimmiut 

Principal Investigators: 

Mélanie Lemire (Université Laval)

Pierre Ayotte (Université Laval)

Chris Furgal (Trent University)

My role:

Co-Investigator 

Community partners: 

Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services

PAST PROJECTS

JES!YEH! Study: Jeunes, environnement santé – youth, environment and health: associations between exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances and thyroid function

Related publication:

Caron-Beaudoin, É., Ayotte, P., Sidi, E. A. L., of Nutashkuan, C. T. K., McHugh, N. G. L., & Lemire, M. (2019). Exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and associations with thyroid parameters in First Nation children and youth from Quebec. Environment international, 128, 13-23.

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FUNDING

Health Canada

Northern Contaminants Program: Indigenous and Northern Affaires Canada