Shannon E. Majowicz


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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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Human biomonitoring of metals in sub-Arctic Dene communities of the Northwest Territories, Canada
Mylène Ratelle, Sara Packull-McCormick, Michèle Bouchard, Shannon E. Majowicz, Brian Laird
Environmental Research, Volume 190

A human biomonitoring project investigating environmental exposures to metals from hair, blood and urine samples was implemented in the Northwest Territories, Canada, between January 2016 and March 2018. This study reports the metal biomarker levels from nine Dene communities located in the Dehcho and Sahtú regions to identify contaminants of interest. Levels of metals in the urine (n = 198), blood (n = 276) and hair (n = 443) samples were generally similar to those seen in other biomonitoring studies in Canada, but lead levels in blood (GM = 16 μg/L; 95th percentile = 71 μg/L) and urine (GM = 0.59 μg/L, 0.69 μg/g of creatinine; 95th percentile = 4.2 μg/L, 4.0 μg/g of creatinine) were higher than those observed in the Canadian Health Measure Survey (CHMS, cycles 2 and 5). Hair mercury (but not blood mercury) appeared higher than observed in participants from the CHMS cycle 5. The vast majority of participants had biomarker levels below the biomonitoring guidance values established for mercury and lead. Based on a comparative analysis of biomarker statistics relative to a nationally-representative survey, metals and essential trace elements of particular interest for follow-up research include: lead, manganese, mercury, and selenium. This project provided baseline biomarker levels in participating regions, which is essential to track changes in the future, and identify the contaminants to prioritize for further investigation of exposure determinants. • A biomonitoring project was implemented in nine Dene communities in 2016–2018. • Urine, blood and hair samples were collected from the Dehcho and Sahtú regions. • Most metals were at similar levels to those in national studies. • Blood lead levels appeared particularly high compared to national levels. • This biomonitoring baseline data will inform environmental monitoring initiatives.


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Design of a human biomonitoring community-based project in the Northwest Territories Mackenzie Valley, Canada, to investigate the links between nutrition, contaminants and country foods
Mylène Ratelle, Matthew Laird, Shannon E. Majowicz, Kelly Skinner, Heidi K. Swanson, Brian Laird
International Journal of Circumpolar Health, Volume 77, Issue 1

Community-based projects place emphasis on a collaborative approach and facilitate research among Indigenous populations regarding local issues and challenges, such as traditional foods consumption, climate change and health safety. Country foods (locally harvested fish, game birds, land animals and plants), which contribute to improved food security, can also be a primary route of contaminant exposure among populations in remote regions. A community-based project was launched in the Dehcho and Sahtù regions of the Northwest Territories (Canada) to: 1) assess contaminants exposure and nutrition status; 2) investigate the role of country food on nutrient and contaminant levels and 3) understand the determinants of message perception on this issue. Consultation with community members, leadership, local partners and researchers was essential to refine the design of the project and implement it in a culturally relevant way. This article details the design of a community-based biomonitoring study that investigates country food use, contaminant exposure and nutritional status in Canadian subarctic First Nations in the Dehcho and Sahtù regions. Results will support environmental health policies in the future for these communities. The project was designed to explore the risks and benefits of country foods and to inform the development of public health strategies.

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Implementation of human biomonitoring in the Dehcho region of the Northwest Territories, Canada (2016–2017)
Mylène Ratelle, Kelly Skinner, Matthew Laird, Shannon E. Majowicz, Danielle Brandow, Sara Packull-McCormick, Michèle Bouchard, Denis Dieme, Ken D. Stark, Juan J. Aristizabal Henao, Rhona M. Hanning, Brian Laird
Archives of Public Health, Volume 76, Issue 1

Human biomonitoring represents an important tool for health risk assessment, supporting the characterization of contaminant exposure and nutrient status. In communities where country foods (locally harvested foods: land animals, fish, birds, plants) are integrated in the daily diet, as is the case in remote northern regions where food security is a challenge, such foods can potentially be a significant route of contaminant exposure. To assess this issue, a biomonitoring project was implemented among Dene/Métis communities of the Dehcho region of the Northwest Territories, Canada.Participants completed dietary surveys (i.e., a food frequency questionnaire and 24-h recall) to estimate food consumption patterns as well as a Health Messages Survey to evaluate the awareness and perception of contaminants and consumption notices. Biological sampling of hair, urine and blood was conducted. Toxic metals (e.g., mercury, lead, cadmium), essential metals (e.g., copper, nickel, zinc), fatty acids, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were measured in samples.The levels of contaminants in blood, hair and urine for the majority of participants were below the available guidance values for mercury, cadmium, lead and uranium. However, from the 279 participants, approximately 2% were invited to provide follow up samples, mainly for elevated mercury level. Also, at the population level, blood lead (GM: 11 μg/L) and blood cadmium (GM: 0.53 μg/L) were slightly above the Canadian Health Measures Survey data. Therefore, although country foods occasionally contain elevated levels of particular contaminants, human exposures to these metals remained similar to those seen in the Canadian general population. In addition, dietary data showed the importance and diversity of country foods across participating communities, with the consumption of an average of 5.1% of total calories from wild-harvested country foods.This project completed in the Mackenzie Valley of the Northwest Territories fills a data gap across other biomonitoring studies in Canada as it integrates community results, will support stakeholders in the development of public health strategies, and will inform environmental health issue prioritization.