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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Presence of airborne contaminants in the wildlife of northern Québec.

As part of the environmental impact studies of the Great Whale and the Nottaway-Broadback-Rupert (NBR) hydroelectric projects, Hydro-Québec collected data on the occurrence and levels of several contaminants present in wildlife from both regions between 1989 and 1991. The analyses performed included metals (mercury, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, lead, nickel and copper), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs as arochlors or the sum of 20-40 congeners) and organochlorine pesticides such as hexachlorobenzene (HCB), DDT, DDE, hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), chlordane, mirex and dieldrin. Species sampled included fish (freshwater and marine), birds (waterfowl, gull and ptarmigan), terrestrial mammals (marten, mink and hare) and marine mammals (freshwater and marine seals, belugas). Most laboratory analyses were carried out on both muscle and liver tissues, but some were conducted on other tissues as well: feathers, eggs and blubber. The results indicate that numerous airborne contaminants were present in the wildlife of both the Great Whale and the NBR study areas and that their level of contamination was similar to that of other northern environments. Total mercury in muscle was high in piscivorous fish, birds and mammals (terrestrial and marine). We observed significant levels of cadmium and lead in the livers of some herbivorous terrestrial animals, such as ptarmigans and hares. Among the organochlorine contaminants analyzed, levels of PCBs and DDE in piscivorous birds (mergansers and loons) and in marine mammals (seals and belugas) were high. For some contaminants, such as mercury, cadmium, lead, PCBs and DDE, the levels observed in some species or tissues could be considered worrisome with regard to public health, if those species or tissues constitute an important part of traditional native diets.[1]


  1. Presence of airborne contaminants in the wildlife of northern Québec. Langlois, C., Langis, R. Sci. Total Environ. (1995) [Pubmed]
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