Comparing plasma concentrations of persistent organic pollutants and metals in primiparous women from northern and southern Canada Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The exposure of Aboriginal peoples in the Canadian Arctic to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and metals through the consumption of traditional food items is well recognized; however, less information is available for Canadian immigrants. The direct comparison of blood chemical concentrations for expectant primiparous women sampled in the Inuvik and Baffin regions of the Canadian Arctic, as well as Canadian- and foreign-born women from five southern Canadian centers (Halifax, Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Calgary), provides relative exposure information for samples of northern and southern mothers in Canada. Based on our analyses, Canadian mothers are exposed to a similar suite of contaminants; however, Inuit first birth mothers residing in the Canadian Arctic had higher age-adjusted geometric mean concentrations for several legacy POPs regulated under the Stockholm Convention, along with lead and total mercury. Significant differences in exposure were observed for Inuit mothers from Baffin who tended to demonstrate higher blood concentrations of POPs and total mercury compared with Inuit mothers from Inuvik. Conversely, northern mothers showed a significantly lower age-adjusted geometric mean concentration for a polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE-153) compared to southern mothers. Furthermore, southern Canadian mothers born outside of Canada showed the highest individual concentrations measured in the study: 1700 μg/kg lipids for p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE) and 990 μg/kg lipids for β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH). Data from Cycle 1 (2007-2009) of the nationally-representative Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) places these results in a national biomonitoring context and affirms that foreign-born women of child-bearing age experience higher exposures to many POPs and metals than their Canadian-born counterparts in the general population.


  • Curren, Meredith S
  • Davis, Karelyn
  • Liang, Chun Lei
  • Adlard, Bryan
  • Foster, Warren
  • Donaldson, Shawn G
  • Kandola, Kami
  • Brewster, Janet
  • Potyrala, Mary
  • Van Oostdam, Jay

publication date

  • May 2014