Mary Gamberg


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Contributions and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples to the study of mercury in the Arctic
Magali Houde, Eva M. Krümmel, Tero Mustonen, Jeremy R. Brammer, Tanya M. Brown, John Chételat, Parnuna Egede Dahl, Runé Dietz, Marlene S. Evans, Mary Gamberg, Marie-Josée Gauthier, José Gérin-Lajoie, Aviaja Zenia Edna Lyberth Hauptmann, Joel P. Heath, Dominique A. Henri, Jane L. Kirk, Brian Laird, Mélanie Lemire, Ann Eileen Lennert, Robert J. Letcher, Sarah Lord, Lisa L. Loseto, Gwyneth A. MacMillan, Stefan Mikaelsson, E. A. Mutter, Todd M. O’Hara, Sonja K. Ostertag, Martin D. Robards, Vyacheslav Shadrin, Margery A. Smith, Raphaela Stimmelmayr, Enooyaq Sudlovenick, Heidi K. Swanson, Philippe J. Thomas, Virginia K. Walker, Alex Whiting
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 841

Arctic Indigenous Peoples are among the most exposed humans when it comes to foodborne mercury (Hg). In response, Hg monitoring and research have been on-going in the circumpolar Arctic since about 1991; this work has been mainly possible through the involvement of Arctic Indigenous Peoples. The present overview was initially conducted in the context of a broader assessment of Hg research organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. This article provides examples of Indigenous Peoples' contributions to Hg monitoring and research in the Arctic, and discusses approaches that could be used, and improved upon, when carrying out future activities. Over 40 mercury projects conducted with/by Indigenous Peoples are identified for different circumpolar regions including the U.S., Canada, Greenland, Sweden, Finland, and Russia as well as instances where Indigenous Knowledge contributed to the understanding of Hg contamination in the Arctic. Perspectives and visions of future Hg research as well as recommendations are presented. The establishment of collaborative processes and partnership/co-production approaches with scientists and Indigenous Peoples, using good communication practices and transparency in research activities, are key to the success of research and monitoring activities in the Arctic. Sustainable funding for community-driven monitoring and research programs in Arctic countries would be beneficial and assist in developing more research/monitoring capacity and would promote a more holistic approach to understanding Hg in the Arctic. These activities should be well connected to circumpolar/international initiatives to ensure broader availability of the information and uptake in policy development.


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Human biomonitoring results of contaminant and nutrient biomarkers in Old Crow, Yukon, Canada
Mallory Drysdale, Mylène Ratelle, Kelly Skinner, Joshua Garcia-Barrios, Mary Gamberg, Megan A. Williams, Shannon E. Majowicz, Michèle Bouchard, Ken D. Stark, Dan Chalil, Brian Laird
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 760

Several large-scale human biomonitoring projects have been conducted in Canada, including the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) and the First Nations Biomonitoring Initiative (FNBI). However, neither of these studies included participants living in the Yukon. To address this data gap, a human biomonitoring project was implemented in Old Crow, a fly-in Gwich'in community in the northern Yukon. The results of this project provide baseline levels of contaminant and nutrient biomarkers from Old Crow in 2019. Samples of hair, blood, and/or urine were collected from approximately 44% of community residents (77 of 175 adults). These samples were analyzed for contaminants (including heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs)), and nutrients (including trace elements and omega-3 fatty acids). Levels of these analytes were compared to health-based guidance values, when available, and results from other human biomonitoring projects in Canada. Levels of lead (GM 0.64 μg/g creatinine in urine/24 μg/L blood), cadmium (GM 0.32 μg/g creatinine in urine/0.85 μg/L blood), and mercury (GM < LOD in urine/0.76 μg/L blood/0.31 μg/g hair) were below select health-based guidance values for more than 95% of participants. However, compared to the general Canadian population, elevated levels of some contaminants, including lead (approximately 2× higher), cobalt (approximately 1.5× higher), manganese (approximately 1.3× higher), and hexachlorobenzene (approximately 1.5× higher) were observed. In contrast, levels of other POPs, including insecticides such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), its metabolite, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were similar to, or lower than, those reported in the general Canadian population. This study can be used along with future biomonitoring programs to evaluate the effectiveness of international initiatives designed to reduce the contaminant burden in the Arctic, including the Stockholm Convention and the Minamata Convention. Regionally, this project complements environmental monitoring being conducted in the region, informing local and regional traditional food consumption advisories.

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Biomarkers of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Sub-Arctic and Arctic communities in Canada
Joshua Garcia-Barrios, Mallory Drysdale, Mylène Ratelle, Éric Gaudreau, Alain LeBlanc, Mary Gamberg, Brian Laird
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Volume 235

Polyfluoroalkyl substances and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of anthropogenic chemicals that are used in food packaging, waterproof clothing, and firefighting foams for their water and oil resistant properties. Though levels of some PFAS appear to be decreasing in Canada's south, environmental levels have been increasing in the Arctic due to long-range transport. However, the implications of this on human exposures in sub-Arctic and Arctic populations in Canada have yet to be established. To address this data gap, human biomonitoring research was completed in Old Crow, Yukon, and the Dehcho region, Northwest Territories. Blood samples were collected from adults residing in seven northern First Nations and were analyzed by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. A total of nine PFAS were quantified: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulphonic acid (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulphonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), and perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUdA), perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), and perfluorobutane sulphonic acid (PFBS). In the Dehcho (n = 124), five PFAS had a detection rate greater than 50% including PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFDA. In addition to these PFAS, PFUdA was also detected in at least half of the samples collected in Old Crow (n = 54). Generally, male participants had higher concentrations of PFAS compared to female participants, and PFAS concentrations tended to increase with age. For most PFAS, Old Crow and Dehcho levels were similar or lower to those measured in the general Canadian population (as measured through the Canadian Health Measures Survey or CHMS) and other First Nations populations in Canada (as measured through the First Nations Biomonitoring Initiative or FNBI). The key exception to this was for PFNA which, relative to the CHMS (0.51 μg/L), was approximately 1.8 times higher in Old Crow (0.94 μg/L) and 2.8 times higher in Dehcho (1.42 μg/L) than observed in the general Canadian population. This project provides baseline PFAS levels for participating communities, improving understanding of human exposures to PFAS in Canada. Future research should investigate site-specific PFNA exposure sources and monitor temporal trends in these regions.