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Pollutants Pile Up In Bodies & Breast Milk Of Inuit And Greenland Natives

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-04 10:24 AM
Original message
Pollutants Pile Up In Bodies & Breast Milk Of Inuit And Greenland Natives
Edited on Fri Jan-23-04 10:59 AM by hatrack

"The bodies of Arctic people, particularly Greenland's Inuit, contain the highest human concentrations of industrial chemicals and pesticides found anywhere on Earth - levels so extreme that the breast milk and tissues of some Greenlanders could be classified as hazardous waste.

Nearly all Inuit tested in Greenland and more than half in Canada have levels of PCBs and mercury exceeding international health guidelines.


In 1987, Dr. Eric Dewailly, an epidemiologist at Laval University in Quebec City, was surveying contaminants in breast milk of mothers near the industrialized, heavily polluted Gulf of St. Lawrence when he met a midwife from Nunavik, the Arctic portion of Quebec province. She asked whether he wanted to gather milk samples from women there. Dewailly reluctantly agreed, thinking it might be useful as "blanks," samples with nondetectable pollution levels. A few months later, the first batch of samples from Nunavik arrived by air mail at the lab in Quebec City. Dewailly soon got a call from the lab director. Something was wrong with the Arctic milk. The chemical concentrations were off the charts. The peaks overloaded the lab's equipment, running off the page.

Upon checking more breast milk, the scientists realized that the peaks were accurate: The Arctic mothers had seven times more PCBs in their milk than mothers in Canada's biggest cities. Nearly a generation has passed since those first vials of breast milk arrived in the laboratory. The babies Dewailly agonized over are now 16, about to pass to their own children the chemical load amassing in their bodies."


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mastein Donating Member (294 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-04 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. Additional information
This information and comment on it has been out for quite a while. The best analysis and "telling of the full story" is in Our Stolen Future by Theo Colburn (sp?). I recall it came out in the late 1990s (1997-1999). I saw her speak at an annual convention I attend the year she published, and I cannot remember where it was (or the year) that I saw her discuss it. She is a fine professional and gives a great history of the problems surrounding endocrine disruptors including how and where we found them.
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dfong63 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-04 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Colborn is a very inspiring figure
and "our stolen future" is a great read.
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baby_bear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-04 02:38 PM
Response to Original message
3. Thanks for this post, hatrack
It's important that this information be widely disseminated, so I'm glad to see it in a newspaper publication.

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