Abandoned Mid-Canada Radar Line sites in the Western James region of Northern Ontario, Canada: A source of organochlorines for First Nations people?
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The potential exists for human exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other contaminants originating from abandoned Mid-Canada Radar Line (MCRL) sites in sub-arctic Canada. We examined patterns of differences with respect to body burden of organochlorines (lipid-adjusted) between residents of the Ontario First Nations of Fort Albany (the site of MCRL Site 050) and Kashechewan (no radar base) and Hamilton (an industrial, southern Ontario community) to assess whether the presence of Site 050 influenced organochlorine body burden with respect to the people of Fort Albany. PCBs (Aroclor 1260 and summation operator14 PCBs congeners [CBs]) and DDE in the plasma of Fort Albany and Kashechewan subjects were elevated relative to Hamilton participants. PCB and DDE-plasma levels in First Nation women were of comparable magnitude to those reported for Inuit women living in the west/central Northwest Territories. Significantly lower DDE/DDT ratios observed for Fort Albany indicates exposure to higher levels of DDT compared to Kashechewan. The probable source of DDT exposure for Fort Albany people is the DDT-contaminated soil surrounding buildings of Site 050. The results of the correspondence analysis (CA) indicated that people from Hamilton had relatively higher pesticides and lower CB body burdens, while people from Fort Albany and Kashechewan exhibited relatively higher CBs and lower pesticide levels (CA-1). The separation of Fort Albany and Kashechewan from Hamilton was also clear using questionnaire data (i.e., plotting dietary principal component [PC]-1 scores against PC-2); PC-1 was correlated with the consumption of a traditional diet. Separation of Kashechewan and Albany residents occurred because the people of Kashechewan ate more traditional meats and consumed shorebirds. Only one significant relationship was found between PC analysis and contaminant loadings; PC-1 versus CA-3 for Kashechewan. The presence of Site 050 on Anderson Island appears to have influenced organochlorine body burden of the people of Fort Albany. ANCOVA results revealed that it was not activity on Anderson Island that was important, but activity on Site 050 was the influential variable. When these results are considered with the DDE/DDT ratio data and the CB 187 results (Fort Albany and Kashechewan residents differed significantly), the findings are suggestive that Site 050 did influence organochlorine body burden of people from Fort Albany.
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