Environmental Monitoring and Research

Temporal Trends of Contaminants in Arctic Seabirds Eggs

Project leader: 

Birgit Braune, Environment Canada, National Wildlife Research Centre, Carleton University, Ottawa
Tel: (613) 998-6694, Fax: (613) 998-0458; Email: birgit.braune@ec.gc.ca

Project Team: 

A. Idrissi, G. Savard, R. Letcher, P. Smith, G. Gilchrist, A. Black, Environment and Climate Change Canada/S&T, Ottawa, ON; M. Mallory, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS; K. Elliott, McGill University, Montreal, QC

Northern Regions : Canada’s Arctic

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Contaminants have been monitored in seabird eggs collected from Prince Leopold Island in the Canadian High Arctic since 1975. The research program is now the longest-running contaminants monitoring program for seabird eggs in the circumpolar North. In 1993, sampling of thick-billed murre eggs from Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay was initiated for comparison. Declines in contaminants have been documented for most of the legacy organochlorines (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT)), as well as in dioxins and furans, while contaminants such as perfluorinated carboxylates and mercury have shown an increase. However, these contaminant trends may now be changing due to climate change and resulting shifts in diet. Throughout 2015, the relationships between climate change and contaminant patterns in seabird eggs on Prince Leopold Island were investigated. The annual monitoring of seabird eggs (i.e. thick-billed murre and northern fulmar) on Prince Leopold Island and Coats Island has improved the power of existing time series.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract:

Contaminants are monitored in arctic seabird eggs as an index of contamination of arctic marine ecosystems. Eggs of thick-billed murres and northern fulmars have been collected from Prince Leopold Island in the Canadian high Arctic since 1975, and thick-billed murre eggs have been monitored at Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay since 1993. Differences in contaminant concentrations in eggs of thick-billed murres from Coats Island and nearby Digges Island suggest that results for these two colonies may not be totally interchangeable. Total Hg concentrations in eggs of thick-billed murres and northern fulmars from Prince Leopold Island increased during the 1970s and 1980s, and are now plateauing. Climate change appears to be having a small, but significant, effect on contaminant concentrations in seabird eggs. Concentrations of organochlorine contaminants in arctic seabird eggs rose in tune with increasingly positive summer North Atlantic Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation conditions, suggesting that contaminant concentrations in seabird eggs may increase if these conditions become more prevalent in the future. This could have important implications for future interpretation of contaminant temporal trends as a measure of the effectiveness of international agreements to reduce emissions.

Key messages:

  • Differences in contaminant concentrations in eggs of thick-billed murres from Coats Isand and nearby Digges Island suggest that results for these two colonies may not be totally interchangeable. 
  • Concentrations of total Hg in thick-billed murre and northern fulmar eggs from Prince Leopold Island increased during the 1970s and 1980s and are now plateauing.
  • Climate change appears to have a small, but significant, interannual effect on contaminant concentrations in seabird eggs.
  • This could have important implications for future interpretation of contaminant temporal trends as a measure of the effectiveness of international agreements to reduce emissions.

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract:

Contaminants are monitored in Arctic seabird eggs as an index of contamination of Arctic marine ecosystems. Eggs of thick-billed murres and northern fulmars have been collected from Prince Leopold Island in the Canadian high Arctic since 1975 and thick-billed murre eggs have been monitored at Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay since 1993. Concentrations of the legacy organochlorines have decreased since 1975 in murre and fulmar eggs at Prince Leopold Island, and polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) have also decreased in the murre eggs from Prince Leopold Island since 1975. In contrast, total mercury has increased, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) increased from 1975 to 2003 in both murre and fulmar eggs followed by a rapid decline. Concentrations of some of the perfluorinated compounds in the murre and fulmar eggs have also declined in recent years. Arctic seabirds continue to be good indicators of changes in contaminant exposure in Arctic marine ecosystems.

Key messages:

  • Concentrations of legacy organochlorines have decreased since 1975 in eggs of two Arctic seabird species, the thick-billed murre and northern fulmar, at Prince Leopold Island.
  • Concentrations of polychlorinated naphthalenes also decreased in thick-billed murre eggs from Prince Leopold Island from 1975 to 2014.
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers increased from 1975 to 2003 in murre and fulmar eggs followed by a rapid decline.
  • Concentrations of some of the perfluorinated compounds in the murre and fulmar eggs have also declined in recent years.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

Contaminants are monitored in Arctic seabird eggs as an index of contamination of Arctic marine ecosystems. Eggs of three species of seabird (thick-billed murre, northern fulmar, black-legged kittiwake) have been collected from Prince Leopold Island in the Canadian High Arctic since 1975. For comparative purposes, we have also been monitoring thick-billed murre eggs from Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay since 1993 as well as two additional species (black guillemot, glaucous gull) from Prince Leopold Island. The was a significant difference in total Hg concentrations in eggs among the five monitored species breeding on Prince Leopold Island in 2013 with the highest concentrations found in the glaucous gull eggs and the lowest, in the eggs of black-legged kittiwakes. Concentrations of dioxins (PCDDs) and furans (PCDFs) have decreased in the murres and fulmars at Prince Leopold Island since 1975 whereas levels of total mercury have increased.

Key Messages

  • Concentrations of dioxins and furans have decreased since 1975 in eggs of two Arctic seabird species, the thick-billed murre and northern fulmar, at Prince Leopold Island.
  • Concentrations of total mercury (Hg) have significantly increased since 1975 in eggs of those same two Arctic seabird species at Prince Leopold Island with the major increases having occurred during the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Significant interspecies differences were found for total Hg concentrations in eggs of five seabird species breeding on Prince Leopold Island in 2013, with the highest concentrations in the glaucous gull eggs and the lowest, in the eggs of black-legged kittiwakes.

Collecting seabird eggs from a high Arctic colony for contaminants monitoring. Photo credit - B. Braune

Photo credit - B. Braune

Northern fulmar eggs from High Arctic colony ready for shipment south, Photo credit - G. Gilchrist (EC)

Photo credit - G. Gilchrist (EC)


Synopsis (2012-2013):

Contaminants are monitored in arctic seabird eggs as an index of contamination of arctic marine ecosystems. Eggs of three species of seabird (thick-billed murre, northern fulmar, black-legged kittiwake) have been collected from Prince Leopold Island in the Canadian high Arctic since 1975. For comparative purposes, we have also been monitoring thick-billed murre eggs from Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay since 1993. In order to examine inter-year variation in the temporal trend data series, annual egg collections have been made since 2005 for two species of seabirds (thick-billed murre, northern fulmar) from Prince Leopold Island. Concentrations of most of the legacy organochlorines (e.g. PCBs, DDE) as well as dioxins (PCDDs) and furans (PCDFs) have decreased in those two species at Prince Leopold Island since 1975 whereas levels of total mercury and perfluorinated carboxylic acids have increased. Levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a group of brominated flame retardants, increased from 1975 to 2003 and now appear to be decreasing.

Key Messages

  • Concentrations of legacy organochlorines (e.g. PCBs, DDT, chlordanes, chlorobenzenes) as well as dioxins and furans have decreased since 1975 in eggs of two arctic seabird species, the thick-billed murre and northern fulmar, at Prince Leopold Island.
  • Concentrations of total mercury (Hg) and perfluorinated carboxylates (PFCAs) have significantly increased since 1975 in eggs of those same two arctic seabird species at Prince Leopold Island.
  • Levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a group of brominated flame retardants, increased from 1975 to 2003 and now appear to be declining in both species.

Thick-billed murre colony in the Canadian high Arctic. Photo credit - B. Braune

Photo credit - B. Braune

Thick-billed murre egg being measured at high Arctic colony, Photo credit - B. Braune (EC)

Photo credit - B. Braune

Thick-billed murres at a high Arctic colony. Photo credit - B. Braune (EC)

Photo credit - B. Braune

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A Latitudinal Investigation of Ecosystem Sensitivity to Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Arctic Fresh Waters

Project Leaders         

John Chételat, Environment Canada, Ottawa, ON
Tel: (613) 991-9835, E-mail: john.chetelat@ec.gc.ca

Murray Richardson, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON

Tel: (613) 520-2600 ext. 2574; E-mail: murray_richardson@carleton.ca

Project Team

Holger Hintelmann, Trent University; Gwyneth MacMillan, Marc Amyot, Université de Montréal; Doug Crump, Environment Canada; Jamal Shirley, Nunavut Research Institute; Steven Lonsdale, Iqaluit; Derek Muir, Environment Canada; Günter Köck, Austrian Academy of Sciences; Paul Drevnick, University of Michigan

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Canada’s Arctic Regions

Project Duration: 2012-2015


Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract

Mercury is a priority contaminant of the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) due to its prevalence in the Arctic and high levels found in some traditional food species. The main objective of this project is to investigate how climate affects methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulation in Arctic lakes. The study design involves a comparison of MeHg bioaccumulation in three regions along a latitudinal gradient in climate-controlled ecosystem types in the Canadian Arctic, specifically sub-Arctic taiga (Kuujjuaraapik, 2012), Arctic tundra (Iqaluit, 2013-14) and polar desert (Resolute Bay, 2014). We have investigated key aspects of MeHg bioaccumulation--MeHg bioavailability to benthic food webs and organism growth rates--as well as how watershed characteristics affect the transport of mercury and organic carbon to lakes. Our preliminary results suggest that climate has a strong influence on the ecosystem sensitivity of mercury in northern lakes through processes of watershed and lake hydrology as well as limitations on fish growth.

Key Messages

·         Lake water concentrations of mercury declined with latitude along our gradient of study lakes.

·         Water mercury concentrations were negatively correlated with water residence time, reflecting the importance of watershed size, lake morphometry, and regional climate (mean annual runoff).

·         Muscle THg concentrations in brook trout and lake-dwelling Arctic char were related to water MeHg concentrations and fish age. The slow growth and older ages of Arctic char led to higher THg concentrations, even in lakes with low water MeHg exposure.


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

Mercury is a priority contaminant of the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) due to its prevalence in the Arctic and high levels found in some traditional food species. The main objective of this project is to investigate how climate affects methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulation in Arctic lakes. The study design involves a comparison of MeHg bioaccumulation in three regions along a latitudinal gradient in climate-controlled ecosystem types in the Canadian Arctic, specifically sub-Arctic taiga (Kuujjuaraapik), Arctic tundra (Iqaluit) and polar desert (Resolute Bay). During this second year of the project (2013-2014), we partnered with the Nunavut Research Institute to conduct a field program at Iqaluit. We investigated key aspects of MeHg bioaccumulation--MeHg bioavailability to benthic food webs and organism growth rates--as well as how watershed characteristics affect the transport of mercury and organic carbon to lakes. Our preliminary results suggest that climate may have a strong influence on the ecosystem sensitivity of mercury in northern lakes through processes of watershed and lake hydrology as well as limitations on fish growth. The information on mercury cycling in sub-Arctic and tundra lakes will be compared to polar desert lakes investigated in 2014 to further validate our analysis of climate influences on MeHg bioaccumulation in aquatic food webs of the eastern Arctic.

Key Messages

  • Dissolved organic carbon was important in explaining differences in surface water total mercury concentrations between the sub-Arctic taiga (Kuujjuaraapik) and Arctic tundra (Iqaluit) study regions but not within each region.
  • Surface water concentrations of MeHg were strongly and positively correlated to total mercury (THg) concentrations, implying strong control of inorganic mercury supply.
  • Surface water concentrations of THg and MeHg decreased logarithmically as a function of lake residence time, suggesting that in-lake processing of THg and MeHg may reduce their ambient concentrations.
  • Sediment concentrations of bioavailable MeHg (measured using diffusive gradient in thin film samplers) were, on average, similar between the sub-Arctic and Arctic study regions.
  • Concentrations of MeHg in the water column explained half of the variation in MeHg bioaccumulation of zooplankton in the sub-Arctic and Arctic lakes.
  • Lake-dwelling Arctic char from Arctic lakes had the same or higher THg concentrations compared with brook trout from sub-Arctic lakes that were exposed to higher water MeHg concentrations.

Mercury is a priority contaminant of the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) due to its prevalence in the Arctic and high levels found in some traditional food species. The main objective of this project is to investigate how climate affects methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulation in Arctic lakes. The study design involves a comparison of MeHg bioaccumulation in three study areas in different ecosystem types in the Canadian Arctic, specifically sub-Arctic taiga (Kuujjuarapik), Arctic tundra (Iqaluit) and polar desert (Resolute Bay). Building on work conducted at Kuujjuarapik in 2012, a field program at tundra sites near Iqaluit will be conducted. In each water body, key aspects of MeHg bioaccumulation will be investigated, including MeHg bioavailability to benthic food webs and organism growth rates, and how watershed characteristics affect the transport of Hg and organic carbon to lakes. We will partner with local organizations in each study area (i.e. Nunavut Research Institute, Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association) to participate in the field programs and provide them with data on mercury levels in local fish. We will develop a conceptual model of processes that affect the exposure of Arctic freshwater fish to MeHg. This information is critical for understanding how climate change is affecting temporal and geographic trends of Hg bioaccumulation in NCP-monitored fish.

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Synopsis (2012-2013):

Mercury is a priority contaminant of the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) due to its prevalence in the Arctic and high levels found in some traditional food species. The main objective of this project is to investigate how climate affects methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulation in Arctic lakes. The study design involves a comparison of MeHg bioaccumulation in three study areas along a latitudinal gradient in climate-controlled ecosystem types in the Canadian Arctic, specifically sub-Arctic taiga (Kuujjuaraapik), Arctic tundra (Iqaluit) and polar desert (Resolute Bay). During the first year of the project, we partnered with the Sakkuq Landholding Corporation to conduct a field program at Kuujjuaraapik (Nunavik). We investigated key aspects of MeHg bioaccumulation--MeHg bioavailability to benthic food webs and organism growth rates-- as well as how watershed characteristics affect the transport of Hg and organic carbon to lakes. Our preliminary results show that watershed processes, MeHg supply to food webs, trophic transfer, invertebrate taxonomy, and growth rates contribute to MeHg bioaccumulation in the sub-Arctic lakes. The detailed characterization of mercury cycling in these systems will be compared to higher latitude sites over the next two years to identify climate influences on MeHg bioaccumulation in aquatic food webs of the eastern Arctic.

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Key Messages

  • Within this sub-Arctic landscape, watershed morphometry is a strong predictor of water chemistry and the accumulation of MeHg in lake water and biota.
  • Bioavailable MeHg concentrations in sediment (measured using specialized samplers) suggest that the study sites differ in their capacity to methylate mercury.
  • Some aquatic invertebrates, such as filter-feeding Daphnia (commonly called water fleas), can bioaccumulate higher concentrations of MeHg.
  • Total Hg concentrations in brook trout muscle were related to fish trophic position and MeHg supply to the food web. The concentrations were less than Health Canada’s consumption guideline of 0.5 µg g-1 wet wt.
  • The RNA content of brook trout muscle declined with fish size, reflecting slower growth rates in larger fish. RNA content will be used to compare fish growth rates among Arctic study regions in future project years.

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Influence of Climate Warming on Mercury Dynamics in High Arctic lakes

Project Leader:

Paul Drevnick, Université du Québec

Tel: (734) 763 6280; E-mail: drevnick@umich.edu

Project Team:

Karista Hudelson, INRS-ETE; Joeffrey Okalik, Nunavut Arctic College; Debbie Iqaluk, Resolute Bay; Derek Muir, Environment Canada; Günter Köck, Austrian Academy of Sciences and University of Innsbruck

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Nunavut

Project Duration: 2013-2015


Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract:

Mercury (Hg) is released to the atmosphere by human activities, mostly in temperate regions, and is transported by prevailing winds to the Arctic.  In lakes (and other aquatic ecosystems), microbes transform Hg into methylmercury (MeHg), which bioaccumulates in food webs, resulting in high concentrations in fish.  Consumption of contaminated fish is the major source of Hg in humans and wildlife and is detrimental to health.  For the NCP-sponsored char “core” monitoring project, we have collected landlocked arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) from lakes near Resolute Bay, NU, annually for more than 15 years.  As the only fish species in lakes that receive contaminants from the atmosphere, these char are good indicators for changing atmospheric inputs of Hg.  Concentrations of Hg in char among lakes reflect atmospheric inputs and often exceed the Health Canada value considered safe for subsistence consumption.  Over the entire period sampled, there has been no consistent increase or decrease with time, although a decline post 2005 may be becoming evident.  Interestingly, Hg concentrations in char tend to track year-to-year changes in summer air temperature, similar to a pattern observed in SW Greenland.  For this study, we are focused on understanding the relationship between Hg and temperature.  We have preliminary evidence from our monitoring lakes that temperature increases the production of MeHg in sediment, and we thus hypothesize that this effect increases MeHg concentrations in sediments, sediment-dwelling insects (chironomids), and char that feed on the insects.  From 2013 to 2015, we are intensively studying water temperature and MeHg dynamics in four lakes near Resolute Bay.  Fieldwork depends on the help of local people in Resolute Bay.  We will couple results from this study with monitoring data from char in a bioaccumulation model to better understand and predict how the changing sources of Hg and climate change will influence the accumulation of Hg and associated ecosystem health risks over time.

Key Messages:

·         We have installed temperature data loggers at many depths in four lakes (Char, Meretta, Resolute, Small) near Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

·         The lakes have longer and warmer open water seasons than previously recorded.

·         We are doing research to understand the effects of warmer water temperatures on net Hg methylation and the bioaccumulation of MeHg in lake food webs – including fish.

·         Field work is complete for this project is complete, although temperature data loggers were redeployed to the lakes to continue collection of data.  Laboratory analyses are ongoing.


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract:

Mercury (Hg) is released to the atmosphere by human activities, mostly in temperate regions, and is transported by prevailing winds to the Arctic. In lakes (and other aquatic ecosystems), microbes transform Hg into methylmercury (MeHg), which bioaccumulates in food webs, resulting in possibly high concentrations in fish. Consumption of contaminated fish can be a major source of Hg in humans and wildlife and is detrimental to health. For the Northern Contaminants Program sponsored char monitoring project, we have collected landlocked arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) from lakes near Resolute Bay, NU, annually for more than 15 years.  These char are good indicators for changing atmospheric inputs of Hg. Concentrations of Hg in char among lakes reflect atmospheric inputs and often exceed the Health Canada value considered safe for subsistence consumption. Over the period sampled, there has been no consistent increase or decrease with time, perhaps reflecting that atmospheric inputs are leveling off with time. Interestingly, Hg concentrations in char tend to track year-to-year changes in summer air temperature, similar to a pattern observed in Southwest Greenland. For this study, we are focused on understanding the relationship between Hg and temperature. We have preliminary evidence from our monitoring lakes that temperature increases the production of MeHg in sediment, and we thus hypothesize that this effect increases MeHg concentrations in sediments, sediment-dwelling insects (chironomids), and char that feed on the insects. From 2013 to 2015, we are intensively studying water temperature and MeHg dynamics in four lakes near Resolute Bay. Fieldwork depends on the help of local people in Resolute Bay. We will couple results from this study with monitoring data from char in a bioaccumulation model to better understand and predict how the changing sources of Hg and climate change will influence the accumulation of Hg and associated ecosystem health risks over time.

 

Key Messages

  • We have installed temperature data loggers at many depths in four lakes (Char, Meretta, Resolute, Small) near Resolute Bay, Nunavut.
  • The lakes have longer and warmer open water seasons than previously recorded.
  • We are doing research to understand the effects of warmer water temperatures on net Hg methylation and the bioaccumulation of MeHg in lake food webs – including fish.
  • Data collection and laboratory analyses are ongoing.

Mercury (Hg) is released to the atmosphere by human activities and is transported by prevailing winds to the Arctic. In lakes (and other aquatic ecosystems), microbes transform Hg into methylmercury (MeHg), which bioaccumulates in food webs, resulting in elevated concentrations in fish. Consumption of contaminated fish can be a source of Hg in humans and wildlife. We have collected landlocked arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) from lakes near Resolute Bay, NU, annually for more than 15 years. As the only fish species in lakes that receive contaminants from the atmosphere, these char are good indicators for changing atmospheric inputs of Hg. Concentrations of Hg in char among lakes reflect atmospheric inputs and can exceed the Health Canada value considered safe for subsistence consumption. Over the period sampled, there has been no consistent increase or decrease, perhaps reflecting that atmospheric inputs are leveling off with time.

For this study, we will focus on understanding the relationship between Hg and temperature. We have preliminary evidence from our monitoring lakes that temperature increases the production of MeHg in sediment, and we thus hypothesize that this effect increases MeHg concentrations in sediments, sediment-dwelling insects, and char that feed on the insects. During 2013 and 2014, we will study water temperature and MeHg dynamics in four lakes near Resolute Bay. Fieldwork will depend on the help of local people in Resolute Bay. We will couple results from this study with monitoring data from char in a bioaccumulation model to better understand and predict how the changing sources of Hg and climate change will influence the accumulation of Hg and associated ecosystem health risks over time.

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Arctic Caribou Contaminant Monitoring Program

Project Leader:

Mary Gamberg, Gamberg Consulting, Whitehorse, Yukon, Tel: 867-334-3360, Email: mary.gamberg@gmail.com

Project Team Members: 

Mike Suitor and Martin Kienzler, Yukon Government; Brett Elkin, Government of Northwest Territories; Mitch Campbell, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut; Arviat Hunters and Trappers Organization, NU; Amarok Hunters and Trappers Organization, NU; Daryl Hedman, Government of  Manitoba; Xiaowa Wang and Derek Muir, Environment Canada.

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Yukon/Nunavut

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Contaminant levels in Canadian Arctic caribou will be measured to determine if these populations remain healthy in terms of contaminant loads, whether they remain a safe food choice for Northerners, and whether contaminant levels are changing over time. This project monitors two caribou herds, the Porcupine (Yukon) and the Qamanirjuaq (Nunavut) on an annual basis. Two additional herds, the Baffin Island and Ahiak, will be monitored this coming year (i.e. 2016/17). Twenty animals from each herd will be sampled and their kidneys analyzed for a suite of 34 elements, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Livers will be analyzed for brominated and fluorinated compounds that have previously been found in caribou. Monitoring populations from the eastern and western Arctic will give scientists a better understanding of the distribution of contaminants in the Arctic and the variability of contaminant burdens between herds.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract

This project studies contaminant levels in caribou in the Canadian Arctic to determine if these populations remain healthy (in terms of contaminant loads), whether these important resources remain safe and healthy food choices for northerners and if contaminant levels are changing over time.  In 2015/2016, samples were collected from 18 Porcupine, 19 Qamanirjuaq, 13 Dolphin & Union and 20 Bluenose East caribou. Sample analyses for these collections had not been completed at the time this report was prepared. Qamanirjuaq and Beverly caribou samples collected in the 2014/2015 year have been analyzed, and results are presented in this report. Age was positively correlated with renal cadmium and zinc in both herds. In the Beverly herd, cows had higher concentrations of renal cadmium and lead than bulls, while in the Qamanirjuaq herd, concentrations of renal arsenic, cadmium and mercury were higher in cows than bulls. These toxic elements tended to be higher in cows than bulls, likely due to the relatively higher volume of food intake (and hence toxic element intake) due to their smaller size and higher energetic requirements from parturition and lactation. Temporal trends were unable to be assessed in the Beverly herd due to insufficient data from the past. Contaminant concentrations in the Qamanirjuaq caribou appear to be stable. Marrow and brain tissue sampled from the Qamanirjuaq caribou do not have elevated levels of contaminants and continue to be a healthy traditional food choice. Levels of most elements measured in caribou kidneys were not of concern toxicologically, although renal mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed.   Yukon Health has advised restricting intake of kidney and liver from Yukon caribou, the recommended maximum varying depending on herd (e.g., a maximum of 32 Porcupine caribou kidneys/year).  The health advisory confirms that heavy metals are very low in the meat (muscle) from caribou and this remains a healthy food choice. 

Key messages

  • Levels of most elements measured in caribou tissues are not of concern, although kidney mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed.
  • Caribou meat (muscle) does not accumulate high levels of contaminants and is a healthy food choice.
  • Contaminant levels in the Qamanirjuaq caribou appear to be stable.
  • Marrow and brain tissue from the Qamanirjuaq caribou do not have elevated levels of contaminants and continue to be healthy traditional food choices.
  • This program will continue to monitor the Porcupine and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds annually to maintain confidence in this traditional food and to better understand the dynamics of contaminants within this ecosystem (particularly mercury).

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract

This project studies contaminant levels in caribou in the Canadian Arctic to determine if these populations remain healthy (in terms of contaminant loads), whether these important resources remain safe and healthy food choices for northerners and if contaminant levels are changing over time.  In 2014-2015 samples were collected from 2 Porcupine and 21 Qamanirjuaq caribou. Sample analyses for these collections had not been completed at the time this report was prepared. Qamanirjuaq and Porcupine caribou samples collected in the 2013-2014 year have been analyzed, and results are presented in this report. Age was positively correlated with renal cadmium and zinc in both herds and negatively correlated with mercury in the Porcupine herd. Renal lead is declining over time in the Porcupine caribou herd, perhaps due to the reduction in use of leaded gasoline in Canada over the last two decades. Renal selenium is increasing over time in the Qamanirjuaq caribou, but not to levels of toxicological concern. The proximity of open ocean to the home range of this herd may have a significant effect on the dynamics of certain elements within that ecosystem. Levels of most elements measured were not of concern toxicologically, although renal mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed.   Yukon Health has advised restricting intake of kidney and liver from Yukon caribou, the recommended maximum varying depending on herd (e.g. a maximum of 32 Porcupine caribou kidneys/year).  The health advisory confirms that heavy metals are very low in the meat (muscle) from caribou and this remains a healthy food choice.

Key Messages

  • Levels of most elements measured in caribou tissues are not of concern, although kidney mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed. Caribou meat (muscle) does not accumulate high levels of contaminants and is a healthy food choice.
  • Lead appears to be decreasing over time in the Porcupine caribou, likely due to emission controls.
  • This program will continue to monitor the Porcupine and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds annually to maintain confidence in this traditional food and to better understand the dynamics of contaminants within this ecosystem (particularly mercury).

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

This project studies contaminant levels in caribou in the Canadian Arctic to determine their contaminant loads, whether these important resources remain safe and healthy food choices for northerners and if contaminant levels are changing over time. In 2013-2014 samples were collected from 20 Porcupine and 4 Qamanirjuaq caribou. Samples analyses had not been completed at the time this report was prepared. Qamanirjuaq samples collected in the 2012-2013 year have been analyzed, and results are presented in this report. Renal cadmium, mercury, selenium and zinc concentrations were positively correlated with age in the Qamanirjuaq caribou collected in 2012. No differences were seen between the sexes for any of the elements tested, contrasting with significantly higher concentrations of arsenic, cadmium and mercury in females from previous collections from this herd in the fall. This suggests transplacental transfer of at least cadmium and mercury from the pregnant female to the fetus in the spring. Temporal trend analysis using the 2012 spring data is not possible because there are only two years of spring-collected data (2010 and 2012). We can only conclude that renal lead concentrations were lower while selenium and zinc concentrations were higher in 2012. In all cases, the differences between years are small and likely not of biological significance. Levels of most elements measured were not of concern toxicologically, although renal mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed. Yukon Health has advised restricting intake of kidney and liver from Yukon caribou, the recommended maximum varying depending on herd (e.g., a maximum of 32 Porcupine caribou kidneys/year). The health advisory confirms that heavy metals are very low in the meat (muscle) from caribou and this remains a healthy food choice.

Key Messages

  • There is evidence that some cadmium and mercury are transferred from the pregnant female to the fetus before birth. This results in somewhat lower concentrations in females than males in the spring.
  • This program will continue to monitor the Porcupine and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds annually to maintain confidence in this traditional food and to better understand the dynamics of contaminants (particularly mercury) within this ecosystem.

 


Synopsis (2012-2013):

This project studies contaminant levels in caribou in the Canadian Arctic to determine if these populations remain healthy (in terms of contaminant loads), whether these important resources remain safe and healthy food choices for northerners and if contaminant levels are changing over time. In 2012/13 samples were collected from 20 Porcupine and 20 Qamanirjuaq caribou. The Qamanirjuaq samples were collected in the spring and had not been analyzed at the time this report was prepared. Arsenic and lead concentrations decreased significantly over time in Porcupine caribou kidneys, although the absolute declines were small, possibly reflecting an increased ability in laboratory detection of smaller amounts of these elements as well as an increase in precision and accuracy of measurement rather than actual declines in the caribou over time. Renal lead concentrations in these caribou may also be affected by the reduction of the use of unleaded gasoline after the prohibition of leaded gasoline in Canada in 1990. Although other elements of interest (cadmium, copper, mercury, selenium, zinc) did not show overall increasing or decreasing trends, inter-annual variation in element concentration was common and may be of particular interest in the case of mercury, where that variation may offer insight into potential drivers of these elements in caribou. The inter-annual variation seen in mercury levels in the Porcupine caribou herd seems to be at least somewhat cyclic and is likely affected by atmospheric patterns of deposition of Hg as well as local environmental conditions affecting Hg concentrations in winter forage in conjunction with forage availability and selection by the caribou. This includes timing of green-up in the spring and the subsequent switch to lower-mercury forages and could therefore potentially be impacted by a changing climate. Levels of most elements measured in Porcupine caribou were not of concern toxicologically, although renal mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed. Yukon Health has advised restricting intake of kidney and liver from Yukon caribou, the recommended maximum varying depending on herd (e.g. a maximum of 32 Porcupine caribou kidneys/ year). The health advisory confirms that heavy metals are very low in the meat (muscle) from caribou and this remains a healthy food choice.

Key Messages

  • Levels of most elements measured in caribou tissues are not of concern, although kidney mercury and cadmium concentrations may cause some concern for human health depending on the quantity of organs consumed. Caribou meat (muscle) does not accumulate high levels of contaminants and is a healthy food choice.
  • Lead concentrations in the Porcupine and Qamanirjuaq herds are declining over time, likely reflecting reductions in lead in the environment due to the prohibition of the use of leaded gasoline in Canada.
  • Over the long term, mercury in the Porcupine caribou is stable, but appears to undergo a cycle. More research is required to determine drivers of the cycle and mercury dynamics within the caribou food chain.

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Host- Parasite-Mercury Interactions in a Marine Bird

Project Leader: Grant Gilchrist, Environment Canada, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Raven Road, Ottawa, Ontario,
Phone (613) 998 7364
Grant.gilchrist@ec.gc.ca

Project Team:

  • Mark Forbes, Jennifer Provencher, Carleton University, Ottawa,
  • Birgit Braune, Environment Canada,
  • Mark Mallory, Acadia University

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Nunavut

Project Duration: 2013-2014


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract:

Natural sources of mercury (Hg) have changed little over the last 150 years, but anthropogenic sources have increased dramatically due to industrialization. Due to both atmospheric and oceanic currents, Hg released from developing areas is deposited in northern North America. As Hg is a known neurotoxin that affects both survival and development, this represents a potentially negative impact for wildlife in the area. Marine bird species in northern Canada are of particular concern not only as ecosystem indicators, but also because they are an important source of country food for many northerners. Through collaborations with Hunter and Trapper Associations in Nunavut (Cape Dorset, Coral Habour, and Sanikiluaq), we collected northern common eider ducks (Somateria mollissima) for parasitological and Hg analysis. Although we found no inter-annual variation in breast muscle Hg concentrations within sites, Hg concentrations significantly differed between the sampling locations. Blood Hg concentrations in breeding females were also determined at an eider breeding colony in northern Hudson Bay. Using historical samples collected from the same colony in 1997-1998 we found that blood Hg concentrations in female eiders was significantly lower in 2013 than in the 1990s sample. Other detailed analyses examining the interactions between gastrointestinal parasites and Hg on both arrival condition and reproduction of eiders are still underway.

 

Key Messages

  • Hg concentrations in eider tissues were found to be below levels of concern for bird health across sampling years and locations.
  • Although no inter-annual differences was found in breast muscle mercury concentrations in common eiders collected in 2011 and 2012 from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Hg concentrations in breast muscle did differ between sites suggesting that different drivers may be influencing Hg concentrations in eiders across their geographic range.
  • Blood mercury concentrations in eider ducks were significantly lower in 2013 as compared with levels observed in the 1990s.

Northern common eider ducks (Somateria mollissima borealis) are an important harvested species that is hunted across the north. The research team is currently working with northern communities to better understand how pollution (contaminants), disease (avian cholera) and predation pressure (bear impacts on colonies) influence eider population dynamics. This work includes understanding bird health in terms of parasite and mercury loads. For example, it has been found that parasitic worms in the gut can influence how heavy metals are absorbed and affect wildlife, specifically in marine bird species. The first project objective will be to use eider ducks that have already been collected for parasite assessment to explore how heavy metals and parasites interact within an avian host to influence host health, reproduction and population dynamics. Eider ducks are a useful model for exploring these questions because large sample sizes are readily available through collaborations with northern communities during their annual eider duck harvest. The project’s second objective will be to assess mercury in eider ducks. Mercury is increasing in a number of Arctic wildlife populations, and although mercury has historically been assessed in eider ducks, little recent work has been done since the 1980s and 90s. Current levels and overall trends will be assessed in order to determine the levels of human exposure to mercury in the consumption of this country food. To date, 260 eiders have already been collected in collaboration with the Hunter and Trapper Associations (HTAs) of Cape Dorset, Coral Harbour and Sanikiluaq, Nunavut. These birds will form the basis of the proposed work.

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Monitoring Environmental Changes and Contaminant Exposure in the Canadian Arctic by Otolith Microchemistry

Project Leader:

Dr. Norman Halden, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
Tel: (204) 474-7248;
E-mail: nm_halden@umanitoba.ca

Dr. Feiyue Wang, Department of Environment and Geography, and Department of Chemistry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
Tel: (204) 474-6250,
E-mail: wangf@ms.umanitoba.ca

Project Team:

  • Zhe Song, University of Manitoba

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Canada’s Arctic Regions

Project Duration: 2013-2014


Project Summary (2013-2014)

We propose to retrieve the metal contamination records, as well as the records of migratory and feeding behaviours, stored in annually grown layers in otoliths (ear bones) from a variety of fish species in the Canadian Arctic. Metals to be studied include mercury, lead, copper, zinc among others. Our main research question is how the concentrations of these metal contaminants in fish have changed in response to changes in contaminant sources under a changing climate. Otolith microchemistry provides time series data simultaneously for both contaminant levels and life history of an individual fish at a scale of years to decades. Such analysis provides data to inform land use and watershed decisions, as well as health information and food security in the Canadian Arctic. All the otolith samples are collected by the local community, and extensive consultation will be sought from the community on their knowledge of environmental changes in the studied watersheds. Such collaboration has already allowed us to build several archived otolith collections, which will be further expanded to other Arctic regions.

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Evaluating the Accumulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Arctic Cod in the Beaufort Sea Using Samples From The BREA Program

Project Leader:

Brendan Hickie, Environmental & Resource Studies Program, Trent University
1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough ON
Tel:: 705-748-1011 ext 7623
E-mail: bhickie@trentu.ca

Gary A. Stern, Arctic Ecosystem Health, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, MB, Canada,
Tel: (204) 984-6761
E-mail: Gary.Stern@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Canada’s Arctic Regions

Project Duration: 2013-2014


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

Arctic cod are widely recognized as a keystone species in Arctic marine food webs where they serve as a prime conduit of energy and hence contaminants from planktonic organisms to upper trophic level species including marine mammals and seabirds that northern people rely on for food. Despite this, there is little data characterizing contaminant concentrations in Arctic cod and factors affecting their accumulation. We are measuring both legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and newer organic contaminants in a large sample of cod (n=60) collected from both in-shore and off-shore areas of the Beaufort Sea that will also allow us to characterize the effects of size, age, and lipid content. Analyses were delayed due to the closure of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Winnipeg contaminants laboratory, and are now being conducted through Environment Canada. Analyses will be completed by the end of 2014 for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and current use pesticides (CUPs).                  

 

Key Messages

  • Analyses for PCBs, BFRs, OCPs and CUPs are being conducted for 60 samples of Arctic cod from the Beaufort Sea that will allow us to determine whether concentrations of these chemicals vary with location (near-shore versus off-shore), age/size and lipid content.
  • This research will fill a significant data gap in helping us better characterize the bioaccumulation of these chemicals into beluga whales and ringed seals in this region.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs, DDT and other organochlorine pesticides are delivered to Arctic ecosystems by ocean currents, rivers and long range atmospheric transport and deposition. Once in the Arctic, many of these chemicals accumulate through food webs, resulting in elevated concentrations in ringed seals and beluga whales. Learning about POPs accumulation in marine food chains and Arctic cod, is a vital component linking contaminant loadings into the Arctic environment with human exposure to pollutants. This project will measure POPs concentrations in Arctic cod collected from a number of locations in the Beaufort Sea in 2012 to help answer a number of research questions, including: Do POPs levels vary with sampling location (including near-shore versus off-shore) and with size or age of fish? Have concentrations of POPs changed in Arctic cod since they were last measured in the region in 1997/98? Overall, this project will help provide greater understanding of factors that affect the accumulation of POPs in species consumed by northern people, and how levels are responding to international efforts to restrict the use of chemicals that show up in Arctic biota.

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Northern Contaminants Air Monitoring: Organic Pollutant Measurements

Project Leader: 

Hayley Hung, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Toronto, Tel: 416-739-5944, Fax: 416-739-4281, E-mail: hayley.hung@ec.gc.ca

Project Team: 

Yong Yu, Mahiba Shoeib, Alexandra Steffen, Derek Muir, Camilla Teixeira, Liisa Jantunen, Fiona Wong, Nick Alexandrou, and Helena Dryfhout-Clark, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Ed Sverko, Enzo Barresi, National Laboratory for Environmental Testing Analytical Team, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Phil Fellin, Henrik Li, Charles Geen, AirZOne One Ltd.; Pat Roach, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Whitehorse; Frank Wania, University of Toronto Scarborough; Organics Analysis Laboratory, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Alert Global Atmospheric Watch Laboratory Staff, Environment and Climate Change Canada, NU; Bob Van Dijken, Council of Yukon First Nations, YK; Laberge Environmental Services, Whitehorse, YK; Derek Cooke, Ta’än Kwach’än Council, YK

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Nunavut

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

The atmosphere is the main pathway for organic contaminants to enter Arctic ecosystems. As such, this project, part of a larger on-going monitoring study that began in 1992, involves the measurement of contaminants in Arctic air. In 2016/17, weekly sampling and screening of emerging chemicals will be continued at the baseline site of Alert, Nunavut. Additional efforts will be taken this coming year to screen for organophosphate flame retardants and synthetic musk compounds. Furthermore, in the western Canadian Arctic the project will continue measurements at Little Fox Lake, Yukon, to assess the influence of trans-Pacific and Asian contaminant sources. This will be done using a passive flow-through air sampler, specifically designed for use in cold environments and in use since August 2011. Measuring the amount of organic pollutants in Arctic air over time provides information on whether these air concentrations are decreasing, increasing, or stable, where these chemicals are coming from, and what climate conditions influence movement to the Arctic. Therefore, results from this work can assist in assessing risks of new contaminants and testing atmospheric models that explain contaminant movement. This information can also inform domestic policies related to emissions, and be used to negotiate and evaluate the effectiveness of international control agreements.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract:

The atmosphere is the most rapid pathway for organic pollutants to reach the remote Arctic.  This project is a continuous monitoring program which has been measuring contaminants in Arctic air since 1992. Measuring how much organic pollutants are present in Arctic air over time will provide  information on whether their air concentrations are decreasing, increasing or not changing over time; where these chemicals have come from; how much from which region and what climate conditions influence their movement to the Arctic. Results from this continuing project are used to negotiate and evaluate the effectiveness of international control agreements and to test atmospheric models that explain contaminant movement from sources in the South to the Arctic. In 2015/16, weekly sampling continued at the monitoring station of Alert, Nunavut, but only one out of four weekly samples were analyzed for routine trend analysis.  The remaining samples were extracted and archived for future exploration and determination of emerging priority chemicals. Starting in 2006, we have extended the program to screen for emerging chemicals, such as current-use pesticides, brominated flame retardants and stain-repellent-related per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), in Arctic air at Alert.  Measured time trends of PFASs at Alert reflect the phase-out of perfluorooc tanesulfonic acid (PFOS)-related products in North America and Europe; and the continual production and use of the fluorotelomer alcohols. A passive flow-through sampler (FTS) specifically designed for use in cold environments has been deployed at Little Fox Lake, Yukon, since August 2011. Sampling at this site is continuous and ongoing. 

Key messages:

  • Stain-repellent-related chemicals were frequently detected in air at Alert
  • Some of the stain-repellent-related chemicals which have been phased out in North America and Europe are declining in concentrations in Arctic air
  • Some stain-repellent-related chemicals are increasing in concentration in Arctic air over time because they are still being produced or used
  • The stain-repellent-related chemicals which tend to dissolve well in water seem to be carried to the Arctic mostly by ocean currents, and were transferred to the air by waves or bursting bubbles
  • Stain-repellent related chemicals that do not dissolve as well in water seem to be carried to the Arctic over long distances through air currents and are released from the snow and ocean in warm seasons

Synopsis (2014-2015)

Abstract:

The atmosphere is the main pathway for organic contaminants to enter Arctic ecosystems.  This project involves the measurement of these contaminants in Arctic air.  It is part of a continuing monitoring program started in 1992.  Measuring how much organic pollutants are present in Arctic air over time will provide us information on whether their air concentrations are decreasing, increasing or not changing over time; where these chemicals have come from; how much from which region and what climate conditions influence their movement to the Arctic. Results from this continuing project are used to negotiate and evaluate the effectiveness of international control agreements and to test atmospheric models that explain contaminant movement from sources in the South to the Arctic.  In 2014-2015, weekly sampling continued at the baseline site of Alert, Nunavut, but only one out of four weekly samples were analyzed for routine trend analysis.  The remaining samples were extracted and archived for future exploration of notable transport episodes and determination of emerging priority chemicals. Starting in Dec 2005, we have extended the program to screen for emerging chemicals, such as current-use pesticides, brominated flame retardants and stain-repellent-related perfluorinated compounds, in Arctic air at Alert.  A passive flow-through sampler (FTS) specifically designed for use in cold environments has been deployed at Little Fox Lake, Yukon, since August 2011.  Sampling at this site is continuous and ongoing.

Key messages:

  • Several emerging brominated flame retardants were detectable in air samples collected at Little Fox Lake, Yukon, from August 2011 to December 2014.
  • Chlorinated flame retardants, dechlorane 602 and 604 were reported for the first time in Arctic air; and dechlorane 602 was detectable in >75% of all samples at Little Fox Lake, while dechlorane 604 was only detected since 2014.
  • Potential source contribution function (PSCF) highlights Northern Canada, Pacific, East Asia as potential sources of flame retardants and organochlorines for Little Fox Lake in warm seasons, while in cold seasons, the chemicals mainly stem from the Pacific and subject to long-range atmospheric transport (LRAT).
  • Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) measured in air at Alert in 2011 were found to be higher than those reported for 1994-1995 and the unique congener profile may imply varying sources.

Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

The atmosphere is the main pathway for organic contaminants to enter Arctic ecosystems. This project involves the measurement of these contaminants in Arctic air. It is part of a continuing monitoring program started in 1992. Measuring how much organic pollutants are present in Arctic air over time will provide us information on whether their air concentrations are decreasing, increasing or not changing over time; where these chemicals have come from; how much from which region and what climate conditions influence their movement to the Arctic. Results from this continuing project are used to negotiate and evaluate the effectiveness of international control agreements and to test atmospheric models that explain contaminant movement from sources in the South to the Arctic. This year, weekly sampling continued at the baseline site of Alert, Nunavut, but only one out of four weekly samples were analyzed for routine trend analysis. The remaining samples were extracted and archived for future exploration of notable transport episodes and determination of emerging priority chemicals. Starting in December 2005, we have extended the program to screen for emerging chemicals, such as current-use pesticides, brominated flame retardants and stain-repellent-related perfluorinated compounds, in Arctic air at Alert. A passive flow-through sampler (FTS) specifically designed for use in cold environments has been deployed at Little Fox Lake, Yukon, since August 2011. 

Key Messages

  • Perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) precursors show declining or unchanging trends in Arctic air at Alert, Nunavut, reflecting the voluntary phase out of the production of PFOS, PFOA, and PFOS-related products by their largest producer, 3M, in 2000
  • Increasing air concentration trends were observed for fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), which are perfluoro alkyl carboxylate (PFCA) precursors, that were not regulated at the time of measurement
  • Three BFRs, namely allyl 2,4,6-tribromophenyl ether (ATE), pentabromotoluene (PBT) and 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE), and dechlorane 604 (DP604) were frequently detected in air at Little Fox Lake, Yukon

Synopsis (2012-2013):

The most rapid route for organic contaminants to enter Arctic ecosystems is through the atmosphere. This project involves the measurement of these contaminants in Arctic air. It is part of a continuing monitoring program started in 1992. The measurement of amounts and types of contaminants involves collecting large volumes of air through filters. The filter samples are then analyzed in a laboratory. Results from this continuing project are used to negotiate and evaluate the effectiveness of international control agreements and to test atmospheric models that explain the movement of contaminants from sources in the South to the Arctic. In this phase of the project, weekly sampling continued at the baseline site of Alert, Nunavut, but only one out of four weekly samples were analyzed for routine trend analysis. The remaining samples were extracted and archived for future exploration of notable transport episodes and for emerging priority chemicals. Starting in Dec 2005, we have extended the program to screen for emerging chemicals, such as current-use pesticides, brominated flame retardants and stain-repellent-related perfluorinated compounds, in Arctic air at Alert. Air monitoring for organic pollutants have also been re-started at Little Fox Lake, Yukon, starting August 2011, using a passive flow-through sampler (FTS).

Key messages

  • The decline in air concentration of lindane measured at Alert has accelerated after its deregistration in Canada followed by worldwide ban.
  • Most banned organochlorine pesticides (OCs) show consistent and continuous declining trends up to the end of 2009.
  • Year-long on-site comparison between the newly developed passive flow-through sampler (FTS) and the super high volume air sampler at Alert shows that the FTS is a reliable and cost-effective method to measure semivolatile organic contaminants in ambient environment with very low concentrations, such as in the Arctic.

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Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds, Flame Retardants and Other Persistent Organic Pollutants in Canadian Archipelago Air and Water

Project Leader:

Liisa M. Jantunen, Environment Canada, Egbert, ON

Tel: (705)-458-3318; E-mail: liisa.jantunen@ec.gc.ca

Project Team:

Mahiba Shoeib, Hayley Hung, Nick Alexandrou,and the Organic Analysis Team

Environment Canada; Gary Stern, Monica Pucko, and Alexis Burt, University of Manitoba; Brendan Hickie, Trent University; Fiona Wong, Stockholm University

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Canada’s Arctic Regions

Project Duration: 2013-2015


Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract:

                The Srctic has been contaminated by legacy organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and currently used pesticides (CUPs) through atmospheric transport and oceanic currents. From research expeditions conducted between 1993-2013, time trends and air-water exchange of OCPs and CUPs were determined. Compounds determined in both air and water were trans- and cis-chlordanes (TC, CC), trans- and cis-nonachlors (TN, CN), heptachlor exo-epoxide, dieldrin, toxaphene, dacthal, endosulfans and metabolite endosulfan sulfate, chlorothalonil, chlorpyrifos and trifluralin.  Pentachloronitrobenzene (quintozene) and its soil metabolite pentachlorothianisole were also found in air. Concentrations of most OCPs declined in surface water, whereas some CUPs increased (endosulfan-I, chlorothalonil and trifluralin) or showed no significant change (chlorpyrifos and dacthal), while most compounds declined in air. Chlordane compound fractions TC/(TC+CC) and TC/(TC+CC+TN) decreased in water and air, while CC/(TC+CC+TN) and TN/(TC+CC+TN) increased, suggesting selective removal of more labile TC over time and/or a shift in chlordane sources. Water/air fugacity ratios indicated net volatilization (FR >1.0) or near equilibrium (FR not significantly different from 1.0) for most OCPs, but net deposition (FR <1.0) for toxaphene. Net deposition was shown for endosulfan-I on all expeditions, while the net exchange direction of other CUPs varied. Understanding the processes and current state of air-surface exchange helps to interpret environmental exposure, evaluate the effectiveness of International Protocols and provides insights for the environmental fate of new and emerging chemicals.

 

Key messages:

·         Concentrations of pesticides that are no longer used, declined in arctic surface water between 1993-2013.  This includes compounds such as hexachlorocyclohexanes, chlordanes, heptachlor exo-epoxide , dieldrin and toxaphene.

·         In surface waters between 1999-2013 in the Canadian archipelago, some pesticides that are currently being used increased including endosulfans, chlorothalonil and trifluralin while some showed no significant change, this include chlorpyrifos and dacthal.

·         Most banned organochlorine pesticides declined in air between 1993-2013.

·         Most current use pesticides declined in air between 1999-2013.


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

Air and water samples were collected in the Canadian Archipelago during September 2013 as a part of ArcticNet to determine occurrence and levels of persistent organic pollutants. This includes banned organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), current use pesticides (CUPs) and flame retardants (specifically the organophosphate flame retardants [OPFRs]). Temporal trends were assessed for these compounds since levels of OCPs in air and water in the Canadian Archipelago have been measured by our group starting in 1992, CUPs since 1999 and air samples for OPFRs were taken from the archive back to 2007. Levels of OCPs in air and water continue to decline and are approaching detection limits; this trend is also being seen at other Arctic air monitoring sites. In general, CUPs have remained constant in air and water, except dacthal, which is decreasing. Dicofol was also screened and detected in the air and water samples; this is an important compound because it is being reviewed by the Stockholm Convention on POPs but reported data in the arctic environment is lacking. These measurements of OPFRs in air are the first for the Canadian Arctic and the OPFRs measurements in water are the first reported values in the entire Arctic. OPFRs concentrations are very high compared to the other compounds sought and are orders of magnitude higher than the brominated flame retardants. OPFRs in Arctic air are quite varied so spatial and temporal trends were not apparent but lower concentrations were observed in air samples taken at Alert compared to the central and southern archipelago.

Key Messages

  • High levels of organophosphate flame retardants and plasticizers (OPFRs) were found in Canadian archipelago air, water and zooplankton.
  • These are the first reports of organophosphate flame retardants in Arctic water and Canadian Arctic air.
  • The levels of OPFRs in air, water and zooplankton are magnitudes higher than brominated flame retardants including the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
  • Levels of banned organochlorine pesticides in air and water continue to decline.
  • Levels of the in-use pesticides determined remain constant except dacthal, which is declining.

The arctic is increasingly being impacted by persistent organic pollutants (POPs) through increased shipping traffic in the North-West passage, transport from the growing oil and gas industry and through continuous air and oceanic transport. This project will determine how POPs and other emerging compounds are transported to the Arctic, what happens to them once they are there, and how they enter the food web. This will be achieved through coordinated air-water-water particulate sampling in the Canadian Archipelago in collaboration with the ArcticNet program onboard the CCGS Amundsen.

Along with reporting on concentrations of new and emerging compounds, we propose to continue the concentration time trends of organochlorine and current-use pesticides in Canadian Archipelago air and water. Results of this research, combined with those from earlier studies, will allow the assessment of changes in the atmospheric and aquatic contamination of the Canadian Archipelago over time. This is particularly important in understanding the effect of Canadian and international controls on chemical emission and how a rapidly changing climate influences transport processes.

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Temporal and Spatial Trends of Legacy and Emerging Organic and Metal/Element Contaminants in Canadian Polar Bears

Project Leader:

Robert Letcher, Senior Research Scientist, Organic Contaminant Research Laboratory (OCRL), Ecotoxicology and Wildlife Health Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, National Wildlife Research Centre, Carleton University, Ottawa
Tel: 613-998-6696, Fax: 613-998-0458, E-mail: robert.letcher@ec.gc.ca

Project Team:

Mr. Markus Dyck, Nunavut Department of the Environment, Government of Nunavut, Igloolik; Dr. Aaron Fisk, Great Lakes Institute f or Environmental Research, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON; Dr. Abde Idrissi, Ecotoxicology and Wildlife Health Division- Lab Services Section, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, ON; Dr. Eva Kruemmel, Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Ottawa, ON; Dr. Ed Sverko, National Lab. For Environmental Testing (NLET), Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Hudson Bay, Nunavut

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

The polar bear is the top predator of the Arctic marine ecosystem and food web. Starting in 2007 and ongoing into 2016/17, on a biennial or annual basis, this project assesses long-term trends and changes of pollutants in polar bears from the southern and western Hudson Bay (Nunavut) subpopulations. The 2016/17 monitoring year will include measurement of legacy POPs (i.e. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlordanes, and dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDTs)). Sample data will be generated for 273 individual contaminants listed as Northern Contaminants Program priorities. A sub-set of archived samples from 2007, as well as a sub-set of 2016/17 samples, will be analyzed for polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs). To more clearly reveal temporal trends, emerging persistent organic pollutant (POP) concentration variance due to confounding factors will be determined through collecting data for polar bear age, sex, body condition, time of collection, fat content, diet, and food web structure. Northern peoples are integral partners for this work as they carry out the annual harvest of polar bears and provide the collected tissue samples for this POP/mercury monitoring.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract:

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is the top predator of the arctic marine ecosystem and food web. Starting in 2007 and ongoing in 2015-2016, on a biennial or annual basis, this project assesses longer-term temporal trends and changes of NCP priority persistent (legacy and emerging) organic and elemental pollutants (POPs) in polar bears from the southern and western Hudson Bay (Nunavut) subpopulations. For emerging POPs that are currently banned or regulated (e.g. under the treaty of the Stockholm Convention on POPs), including tetra- to octa-brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), both subpopulations have shown decreasing levels of sum (∑) PBDE concentrations from 2009 to 2014. Although quantifiable in the low ppb (lipid weight) up until 2013, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) was not detectable in 2013 or 2014 bear fat samples. Over the period of 2007 to 2015, PFOS and ∑PFCA concentrations (wet weight) were consistently high (ppm or greater levels) with no obvious increasing or decreasing trends. Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) were in 2014 fat samples at mean ∑SCCP levels of high ppb concentrations. Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), β-endosulfan, endosulfan sulfonate, pentachlorophenol (PCP), pentachloroanisole (PCA) ando,p’- and p,p’-dicofol isomers were consistently not detected. Consistent with previous years, legacy POPs (i.e., PCBs, CHLs, DDTs and ClBzs) remained at similar concentrations, although ∑PCB and ∑CHL concentrations (ppm lipid weight) remained at the greatest levels compared to all other POPs measured. Total Hg concentrations (wet weight) in liver were also unchanged from 2002 to 2015. To more clearly reveal temporal trends, POP concentration variance is being examined as a function of factors such as age, sex, body condition, time of collection, lipid content, and diet and food web structure (via carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios and fatty acid profiles). In addition to assessing temporal trends for Hudson Bay bears, this information is used to inform indigenous and northerners/northern communities about POP levels and how contaminant levels in marine wildlife affect their culturally and traditionally important country foods.

Key messages:

  • As of 2014, for western Hudson Bay bears, generally the mean levels for PCBs, ΣDDTs, ∑CHLs, ∑-HCH, ∑-HCH and ∑ClBzs (in fat) were similar to those in samples going back to 2001. ∑PCBs and ∑CHLs continued to remain high at ppm (lipid weight) concentrations.
  • Trends for mean ∑PBDE concentrations (in fat)increased from 1991 to late 2000s for western Hudson Bay bears, but then showed a decreasing trend from 2010-2014. Temporal trends were similar for southern Hudson Bay bears(2007-2008 to 2014 period), although the southern subpopulation maintained consistently greater ∑PBDE levels than the western subpopulation.
  • Mean HBCDD levels were consistently at low ppb levels in western Hudson Bay bear fat over the years 2001 to 2013, and similarly from 2007-2008 to 2013 for southern Hudson Bay bears. However, as of 2014 HBCDD was not detected for all bear samples.
  • Over the period of 2007-2015, meanPFAS concentrations (wet weight) in liver were consistently comprised mostly of PFOS and ∑PFCAs (low levels of PFOA but mostly C9, C10 and C11 PFCAs). PFOS was consistently higher than ∑PFCAs, and PFOS was consistently at ppm levels but at greater levels in southern Hudson Bay versus western Hudson Bay bears. There was no obvious increasing or decreasing trends for ∑PFCAs and PFOS for both subpopulations over the 2007-2015 period.
  • In the liver of bears from both subpopulations, mean THg concentrations (wet weight) from 2002 to 2015 were constant, and slightly greater in bears from western versus southern Hudson Bay.

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract: The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is the apex predator of the arctic marine ecosystem and food web. Starting in 2007 and ongoing in 2014, on a biennial or annual basis this project is assessing longer-term temporal trends and changes of NCP priority persistent organic and elemental pollutants (POPs) in polar bears from the southern and western Hudson Bay (Nunavut) subpopulations. For POPs that are currently banned or regulated (e.g. under the Stockholm Convention on POPs), annual-based sampling of adipose tissue from 2007-2014 for southern or western Hudson Bay bears are showing no temporal trend changes. In the case of western Hudson Bay bears over the longer 1991-2014 period, relative the years prior to 2001, from 2007-2014 Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane(SDDT) and alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane a-HCH levels were lower, and SPCB, Polyrominated diphenyl ether  (SPBDE) (tetra- to octa-brominated congeners; no detectable BDE-209) and b-HCH levels were higher. Since 2009 for both subpopulation bears, SPBDE levels appear to be decreasing. For recent adipose samples, hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), β-endosulfan and endosulfan sulfonate were not detected for all bear samples, whereas α-endosulfan and several organophosphate flame retardants were detectable with some frequency but at low ppb levels. Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and Dechlorane Plus (DP) 602 and 603 showed recent low ppb levels, whereas BB-153 was comparable to SPBDEs. Between 2007 and 2013, PFOS and SPFCAs in liver were consistently high at 500 to 2500 ng·g-1 wet weight (ww) (only SPCB and SCHL were higher), with levels in southern bears being higher than western Hudson Bay bears, although for either subpopulation the levels did not appear to be increasing or decreasing. Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) were found in recent (2012-2014) adipose samples at mean SSCCP levels of 160 to 500 ng·g-1 ww. Polychlorinated naphthalene (SPCNs) in the 2014 samples were at 18 to 27 ng·g-1 ww for western and southern Hudson Bay bears. Other new POPs in 2013-2014 liver samples included perfluorobutane sulfonamide (FBSA), perfluorobutane carboxylic acid (PFBA) and perfluoro-4-ethylcyclohexane sulfonic acid (PFEtCHxS) at low ppb levels. To more clearly reveal temporal trends, POP concentration variance due to confounding factors are being assessed from collected data for age, sex, body condition, time of collection, lipid content, and diet and food web structure (e.g. carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios). Northern peoples are integral partners as they carry out the annual harvest of polar bears and provide the collected tissue samples for this POP monitoring.

Key messages:

  • As of 2014, for western Hudson Bay bears, generally the levels for SPCBs, SDDTs, SCHLs, a-HCH, b-HCH and SClBzs are similar to those in samples going back to 2001. SPCBs and SCHLs continued to remain high at ppm levels.
  • Since 2009, S4PBDE levels appear to be decreasing in bears from southern (2007-2008 to 2014 period) and western (2001-2002 to 2014 period) Hudson Bay bears, although the southern subpopulation maintained consistently higher S4PBDE levels than the western subpopulation.
  • SSCCPs in adipose tissue had high mean levels of 160 to 500 ng·g-1 ww, SPCNs were at 18 to 27 ng·g-1 ww for all Hudson Bay bears, whereas HBCDD and DP 602 and 603 showed recent low ppb levels, BDE-209 was not detectable, and BB-153 levels were comparable to SPBDEs.
  • HCBD, α-endosulfan, β-endosulfan and endosulfan sulfate or any other brominated flame retardant were not detectable in fat samples from any Hudson Bay bear harvested in 2014 as well as previously in 2013.
  • Between 2007 and 2013, PFOS and SPFCAs in liver were consistently high at 500 to 2500 ng·g-1 wet weight (ww), and higher for southern bears, although for either subpopulation the levels did not appear to be increasing or decreasing.
  • For both subpopulations, compared to previous years, in 2014 the total mercury (THg) concentrations may be increasing in liver.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is the apex predator of the arctic marine ecosystem and food web. Legacy and emerging contaminants were monitored, as well as new target persistent organic pollutants (POPs) discovered, in the liver or fat of polar bears collected in 2013 from the two territorial management zones in southern and western Hudson Bay in Nunavut. As of 2013, for western Hudson Bay bears, generally the levels for SPCBs, SDDTs, SCHLs, a-HCH, b-HCH and SClBzs are similar to those in samples going back to 2001. Since 2001 to 2013, SPCBs and SCHLs have been consistently at high levels ranging from 2,000 to 9,000 ng·g-1 lw. S4PBDE levels appear to be unchanged in bears from southern (2007-2008 to 2013 period) and western (2001-2002 to 2013 period) Hudson Bay bears. Unlike previous years, BDE-209 was quantifiable in the fat of southern (1.9 to 29 ng·g-1 lw) and western (1.6 to 20 ng·g-1 lw) Hudson Bay bears, and accounted for as high as 10% of the total SPBDE concentration. For both subpopulations, compared to previous years, in 2013 the total mercury concentrations appeared to be increasing in liver. Of 24 SCCPs in 2012-collected Hudson Bay polar bear fat samples, n=17 were quantifiable with a mean SSCCP concentration of 493 ± 343 pg·g-1 lw. HCBD, α-endosulfan, β-endosulfan and endosulfan sulfate were not detectable in fat samples from any 2013 Hudson Bay bears. We conclude that as of 2013, international regulations are showing some effectiveness as legacy and emerged (i.e. PBDE) POPs are generally not increasing in polar bears from Hudson Bay, relative to historical levels. However, more recent and unregulated POPs such as BDE-209 and SCCPs are present and may be on the rise.

Key Messages

  • As of 2013, for western Hudson Bay bears, generally the levels for SPCBs, SDDTs, SCHLs, a-HCH, b-HCH and SClBzs are similar to those in samples going back to 2001. SPCBs and SCHLs continued to remain high at parts-per-million levels.
  • Based on time-point comparisons, S4PBDE levels appear to be unchanged in bears from southern (2007-2008 to 2013 period) and western (2001-2002 to 2013 period) Hudson Bay bears, although the southern subpopulation maintained consistently higher S4PBDE levels than the western subpopulation.
  • Unlike 2011 and 2012, BDE-209 was quantifiable in the fat of southern (1.9 to 29 ng·g-1 lw) and western (1.6 to 20 ng·g-1 lw) Hudson Bay bears, and accounted for most of the remaining 10% of the total SPBDE concentration.
  • For both subpopulations, compared to previous years, in 2013 the total mercury concentrations appeared to be increasing in liver.
  • Of 24 SCCPs in 2012-collected Hudson Bay polar bear fat samples, n=17 were quantifiable with a mean SSCCP concentration of 493 ± 343 pg·g-1 lw.
  • HCBD, α-endosulfan, β-endosulfan and endosulfan sulfate were not detectable in fat samples from any Hudson Bay bear harvested in 2013.

Synopsis (2012-2013):

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is the apex predator of the arctic marine ecosystem and food web. Legacy and emerging contaminants were monitored, as well as new POPs discovered, in the liver or fat of polar bears collected in 2012-2013 from the two territorial management zones in southern and western Hudson Bay in Nunavut. This contaminant monitoring is ongoing and focuses on inter-year temporal trends over the longer term. As of 2011, for western Hudson Bay bears, generally the levels for SPCBs, SDDTs, SCHLs, a-HCH, b-HCH and SClBzs are similar to those in samples from 2007. That is, in 2011 SPCBs and SCHLs continue to remain at high ppm levels, SClBzs remained at the 200 to 400 ng·g-1 (lipid weight (lw)) levels, SDDTs and a-HCH continue to decline, and b-HCH continues to follow an increasing concentration trend. Based on two- and three-point temporal comparisons back to 2001-2002, the levels for S4PBDEs in the southern Hudson Bay bears appears to have decreased. For western Hudson Bay the S4PBDE levels are roughly unchanged. Our analysis of 2011 fat samples from Hudson Bay bears showed that BDE-209 and eighteen non- PBDE replacement BFRs were almost completely non-detectable. Generally, the levels for PFOS in both the western and southern Hudson Bay bears appears to have decreased in 2011 relative to 2007-2008. We presently conclude that as of 2011 international regulations are effective as legacy and emerged (i.e. PBDE and PFOS) POP levels continue not to be increasing or appear to be decreasing in polar bears from Hudson Bay and other Canadian subpopulations, relative to historical levels.

Key messages

  • As of 2011, for western Hudson Bay bears, generally the levels for SPCBs, SDDTs, SCHLs, a-HCH, b-HCH and SClBzs are similar to those in samples from 2007.
  • As of 2011, SPCBs and SCHLs continue to remain at high ppm levels, SClBzs remained at the 200 to 400 ng·g-1 lw levels, SDDTs and a-HCH continue to decline, and b-HCH continues to follow an increasing concentration trend.
  • Based on two-point temporal comparisons, 2011 and 2007-2008, the levels for S4PBDEs in the southern Hudson Bay bears appears to have decreased, and for western Hudson Bay the S4PBDE levels are roughly unchanged.
  • Generally, the levels for PFOS in both the western and southern Hudson Bay bears appears to have decreased in 2011 relative to 2007-2008.

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Spatial and Long-term Trends in Persistent Organic Contaminants and Metals in Lake Trout and Burbot from the Northwest Territories

Project Leaders: 

Marlene S. Evans, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Saskatoon, SK
Tel: (306) 975-5310; Fax: (306) 975-5143; Email: marlene.evans@ec.gc.ca

Derek Muir, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON
Tel: (905) 319-6921, Fax: (905) 336-6430; Email: derek.muir@ec.gc.ca

Project Team: 

Rosy Bjornson, and Diane Giroux , Akaitcho Territory Government, Fort Resolution, NT; Sonya Almond, Mike Tollis, Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, Lutsel K’e, NT; George Low and Mike Low, Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program, Hay River, NT; Jessica Jumbo, Trout Lake, NT; Xinhua Zhu, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Winnipeg, MB; Jonathan Keating, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Saskatoon, SK; Xiaowa Wang, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON

Project Duration: ongoing

Northern Regions Included in the Study: NWT


Project Summary (2016-2017)

This study is part of Northern Contaminants Program’s Trend Monitoring Program whose overall objective is to measure contaminant trends in animals that are important to traditional diets.  The study focuses on lake trout and burbot harvested from Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.  Lake trout will be obtained from the domestic fishery at Lutsel K’e (East Arm of the lake) and the commercial fishery operating out of Hay River (West Basin).  Burbot will be obtained from the domestic fishery at Fort Resolution, located on the Slave River delta. At each location, community members will harvest twenty fish that will undergo chemical analyses focused on trends in mercury and metals.  While fish will not be analyzed for organic contaminants this year, tissues will be archived for potential analyses at a later date. Findings will be synthesized and reported in research papers. The project will include a minimum of one coordinated visit to the Great Slave Lake area to discuss study results, potentially conduct lake sampling and training, and look into expanding community partnerships.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract

This Great Slave Lake study contributes to the Northern Contaminants Program trend monitoring component by investigating contaminant trends in fish species which are important in traditional diets.  In 2015, lake trout were investigated from the Hay River region (West Basin) and Lutsel K’e (East Arm); burbot were monitored from Fort Resolution, located on the Slave River delta. Fish were analyzed for mercury, metals and persistent organic pollutants.  In addition, under other programs, we investigated northern pike at Fort Resolution and burbot at Lutsel K’e for mercury trends.  Mercury concentrations remain relatively low in these fish and previously reported trends of mercury increase have become more muted.  Persistent organic pollutant concentrations are declining, particularly ΣDDT and ΣHCH for both species and locations and ΣPCBs for West Basin fish. We gave a presentation on our studies to the Akaitcho General Assembly and published a scientific paper in the Journal of Great Lakes Research synthesizing our early 1990s sediment and food webs studies on Great Slave Lake. We continue to work with Fort Resolution on its water intake study and contribute to related studies being conducted by other researchers and communities, including mercury trends in fish in Dehcho lakes and Great Bear Lake.

Key messages

  • Mercury concentrations remain relatively low (average <0.5 µg/g) in lake trout, burbot and northern pike.
  • A few years ago, mercury concentrations appeared to be increasing in lake trout and burbot, but there is less evidence of a temporal increase in recent years. 
  • Persistent organic pollutant concentrations are declining, particularly in West Basin fish.

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract: We are investigating trends in contaminant concentrations in Great Slave Lake West Basin burbot (domestic fishing zone Resolution Bay area) and lake trout (commercial fishery zone) and East Arm lake trout (domestic fishery Lutsel K’e area).  In 2014, these fish were analyzed for mercury and other metals concentrations; biological measurements such as length, weight, age, percent water, and carbon and nitrogen isotopes were measured to help us investigate fish health and differences in contaminant concentrations between species, locations, and time.  While not part of the NCP core monitoring, we continued our northern pike study at Fort Resolution and burbot at Lutsel K’e.  Mercury concentrations continue to show a general trend of increase although mean concentrations remain below commercial sale guidelines.   Several persistent organic pollutants also are showing evidence of decline with the rate of decline greater in West Basin than East Arm fish.  We are working with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) to characterize trends in POPs.   We continue to work on the assessments of mercury concentrations in fish from smaller lakes in the Dehcho with fish provided from Cli, Fish, Tathlina and Trout Lakes; the Trout Lake study included provision of 10 normal and 10 skinny walleye.  We also worked with Fort Resolution in using their domestic water intake to collect water quality data year round for Resolution Bay and track seasonal cycles in productivity.

Key messages:

  • Mercury concentrations continue to show trends of increase in Great Slave Lake fish although the rates of increase are small and average lake trout and burbot mercury concentrations remain below commercial sale guidelines. 
  • Mercury concentrations were higher in the predatory fish in the smaller Dehcho lakes and, on average, close to or above commercial sale guidelines.   
  • Several persistent organic pollutants are showing evidence of decline over the past three decades with the rate of decline possibly greater in the West Basin where the residence time is shorted and sedimentation rates greater than in the East Arm.
  • Water quality monitoring at the domestic intake at Fort Resolution, if continued, may provide a better basis for investigating the relationship between annual cycles of productivity and trends of mercury in West Basin fish, particularly in the Resolution Bay area.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

Our Great Slave Lake study is investigating temporal trends in mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in lake trout provided from the commercial fishery operating in the West Basin and the Lutsel K’e domestic fishery in the East Arm. Burbot are being monitored from the domestic fishery at Fort Resolution, located at the Slave River inflow.  We also have been collecting Fort Resolution northern pike and Lutsel K’e burbot for mercury trend monitoring.  Mercury concentrations show significant trends of increases for lake trout and burbot but not for northern pike: average mercury concentrations for a given species, year and location are well below the 0.5 µg·g-1 commercial sale guideline for fish.  Contributions were made to the CACAR mercury assessment report and review papers.  With respect to POPs and Great Slave Lake, we contributed to the AMAP POPs assessment report by examining trends and the statistical power of our data sets.  Many POPs are declining in concentration with trends most evident in West Basin fish and burbot in particular.  We continued to work with George Low under the Deh Cho Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management mercury assessment program in small lakes in the Fort Simpson area; mercury concentrations are higher than in Great Slave Lake with some evidence of temporal increases.  Community interactions remain strong including contributions to the AAROM workshop and to Fort Resolution’s water intake monitoring program. We contributed to a study of mercury and radionuclides in lake trout from Stark Lake (near Lutsel K’e) and collected sediment cores from western Great Slave Lake, Stark Lake and Kasika Lake in March 2014.

Key messages

  • Mercury is showing a trend of increase in Great Slave Lake burbot and lake trout although average concentrations remain below commercial sale guidelines (0.5 µg·g-1).
  • Persistent organic contaminants occur in relatively low concentrations in lake trout (fillet) and burbot (liver) with concentrations greater in burbot liver than lake trout fillet; in general contaminants are higher in East Arm fish.
  • Many POPs are showing evidence of temporal decline, particularly in burbot liver.  Declines are more commonly observed in West Basin than East Arm lake trout.
  • Mercury concentrations are higher in predatory fish in the small lakes west of Great Slave Lake with some evidence of temporal trends of increase.

Synopsis (2012-2013):

Our study is investigating temporal trends in mercury and persistent organochlorine contaminants in lake trout and burbot in Great Slave Lake. Two areas are being investigated which differ in their overall limnology, fisheries ecology, and contaminant sources. The West Basin is the more productive region, supports a commercial fishery and is under a strong Slave River influence. The East Arm is less productive, supports only a domestic and sports fishery, and direct atmospheric inputs may be the more important contaminant source. Lake trout were caught at Hay River (West Basin) and Lutsel K’e (East Arm) and burbot were caught at Fort Resolution (West Basin) with NCP funds; with other funds we continued our burbot monitoring at Lutsel K’e and northern pike (mercury only) at Fort Resolution. With the formal NCP monitoring beginning in 1998 and supplemented with data collected from earlier studies, our data bases are becoming strong enough to detect statistical trends, particularly for mercury. Mercury concentrations are showing significant trends of increases for lake trout and burbot but not northern pike: average mercury concentrations for a given species, year and location are well below the 0.5 µg/g commercial sale guideline for fish. Among the legacy persistent organic contaminants, the strongest trends of decline have been observed for HCH followed by DDT; other trends are weaker and inconsistent with species and location. CBZ may be showing a trend of increase in lake trout.

 Key Messages

  • Mercury concentrations in lake trout (fillet) and burbot (fillet) collected from the West Basin and East Arm are showing a significant trend of increase. Average mercury concentrations remain below <0.5 µg/g with occasional exceedances associated with large fish.
  • Northern pike, currently monitored in Resolution Bay as part of the Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program, have shown no trend of increase. Average mercury concentrations remain below <0.5 µg/g with occasional exceedances associated with large fish.
  • Among the legacy persistent organic contaminants, HCH and DDT are showing the strongest trends of decline in lake trout (fillet) and burbot (liver) in fish caught from the West Basin and East Arm of Great Slave Lake.
  • PCBs, chlordane, and dieldrin are showing a significant trend of decline in West Basin trout but not East Arm trout and, with the exception of dieldrin, East Arm burbot.
  • CBz is showing a general decline in burbot and a general increase in lake trout although trends are significant only for West Basin lake trout and East Arm burbot

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Long Term Trends of Halogenated Organic Contaminants and Metals in Lake Trout from Two Yukon Lakes; Kusawa and Laberge

Project leader: 

Gary A. Stern, Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS), Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Tel: (204) 474-9084; Email: Gary.stern@umanitoba.ca

Project team: 

Pat Roach, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Mary Gamberg, Gamberg Consulting, Whitehorse; Bob van Dijken, Council of Yukon First Nations, Whitehorse; Renewable Resource Program, Yukon College; Centre for Earth Observation Sciences (CEOS), University of Manitoba

Northern Regions: Yukon

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

The objective of this project is to maintain current data on contaminant levels in lake trout from two Yukon lakes, Laberge and Kusawa. The project also aims to continue the assessment of temporal trends in bioaccumulating substances to determine whether levels of contaminants in fish are increasing or decreasing over time. This information will provide insight into the health of the fish stock and exposure to people who consume these fish. The contaminants that will be assessed include trace metals (e.g. mercury, selenium, arsenic), organochlorine contaminants (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), toxaphene), selected current use chemicals (e.g. brominated flame retardants and fluorinated organic compounds). These results will contribute to testing the effectiveness of international controls.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract

Lake trout muscle samples collected from two Yukon Lakes, Kusawa and Laberge, were analysed for a range of organohalogen (OCs/PCBs/BFRs/FOCs) and heavy metal (Hg/Se/As) contaminants. Currently heavy metal time trend data from Laberge and Kusawa Lake trout muscle cover 22 years, 19 and 17 time points, respectively. The mean mercury levels of all data sets for the Laberge sample was 0.47 ± 0.21 (n=202), while the mean mercury level of all Kusawa samples was 0.37 ± 0.22 (n=164) g g-1, respectively. In both lakes, levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 g g-1 for commercial sale. No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge over the last 22 years. In Kusuwa Lake, after a significant drop in the length adjusted Hg trout muscle concentrations in 2001, no significant trends have been observed. The current length adjusted mean Hg concentration for trout in Kusawa Lake is now at its highest level since 1999.

Key messages

  • Currently heavy metal (mercury, selenium and arsenic) time trend data from Laberge and Kusawa Lake trout cover 22 years, 19 and 17 time points, respectively
  • The mean Hg levels over the entire data sets for the Laberge and Kusawa samples were 0.47 ± 0.21 (n=202) and 0.37 ± 0.22 (n=164) g g-1, respectively. In both lakes, levels are just below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 g g-1 for commercial sale.
  • No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge over the last 22 years.
  • In Kusuwa Lake, after a significant drop in the length adjusted mean Hg trout muscle concentrations in 2001, no significant trends have been observed. The current length adjusted mean Hg concentration is now at its highest level since 1999.

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract

Lake trout muscle samples collected from two Yukon Lakes, Kusawa and Laberge, were analysed for a range of organohalogen and heavy metal contaminants. Currently heavy metal time trend data from Laberge and Kusawa Lake trout muscle cover 21 years, 18 and 16 time points, respectively. The mean mercury (Hg) levels over the entire data sets for the Laberge and Kusawa samples were 0.47 ± 0.21 (n=182) and 0.37 ± 0.23 (n=154) mg g-1, respectively. In both lakes, levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale. No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge and Kusawa length adjusted lake trout Hg levels over the last 21 and 15, respectively. Arsenic (As) was observed with the mercury, after a rapid decline, the lipid adjusted OC concentrations seem to start to increase again around 2003-2004. Significant variability in the Laberge samples is observed and as a result no temporal trends are evident.

Key messages

  • Currently heavy metal (mercury, selenium and arsenic) time trend data from Laberge and Kusawa Lake trout cover 21 years, 18 and 16 time points, respectively
  • The mean Hg levels over the entire data sets for the Laberge and Kusawa samples were 0.47 ± 0.21 (n=182) and 0.37 ± 0.23 (n=154) mg·g-1, respectively. In both lakes, levels are just below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg·g-1 for commercial sale.
  • No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge lake trout Hg levels over the last 19 years.
  • No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge and Kusawa length adjusted lake trout Hg levels over the last 21 and 15, respectively.
  • As was observed with the mercury, after a rapid decline, the lipid adjusted OC concentrations seem to start to increase again around 2003-2004. Significant variability in the Laberge samples is observed and as a result no temporal trends are evident.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

Lake trout muscle samples collected from two Yukon Lakes, Kusawa and Laberge, were analysed for a range of organohalogen (OCs/PCBs/BFRs/FOCs) and heavy metal (Hg/Se/As) contaminants. Currently heavy metal time trend data from Laberge and Kusawa Lake trout muscle cover 20 years, with 17 and 15 time points respectively. The mean Hg levels over the entire data sets for the Laberge and Kusawa samples were 0.48 ± 0.22 (n=162) and 0.38 ± 0.23 (n=144) mg g-1, respectively. In both lakes, levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale. No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge lake trout Hg levels over the last 19 years. In Kusuwa Lake, after a significant drop in the length adjusted mean Hg trout muscle concentrations in 2001, levels increased consistently until 2007, dropped in 2008, and are again on the rise. The current length adjusted mean Hg concentration is now at its highest level since 1999. As was observed with the mercury, after a rapid decline, the lipid adjusted OC concentrations seem to start to increase again around 2003-2004. Significant variability in the Laberge samples is observed and as a result no temporal trends are evident.

Key Messages

  • Currently heavy metal (mercury, selenium and arsenic) time trend data from Laberge and Kusawa Lake trout cover 20 years, with17 and 15 time points respectively.
  • The mean Hg levels over the entire data sets for the Laberge and Kusawa samples were 0.48 ± 0.22 (n=162) and 0.38 ± 0.23 (n=144) mg g-1, respectively. In both lakes, levels are just below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale.
  • No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge lake trout Hg levels over the last 19 years.
  • In Kusuwa Lake, after a significant drop in the length-adjusted mean Hg trout muscle concentrations in 2001, levels increased consistently until 2007, dropped in 2008, and are again on the rise. The current length-adjusted mean Hg concentration is now at its highest level since 1999.
  • As was observed with mercury, after a rapid decline, the lipid adjusted OC concentrations seem to start to increase again around 2003-2004. Significant variability in the Laberge samples is observed and as a result no temporal trends are evident.

 

Synopsis (2012-2013):

Lake trout muscle samples collected from two Yukon Lakes, Kusawa and laberge, were analysed for a range of organohalogen (OCs/ PCBs/BFRs/FOCs) and heavy metals (Hg/Se/ As) contaminants. Currently heavy metal time trend data from Laberge and Kusawa Lake trout muscle cover 19 years, 16 and 14 time points, respectively. Mean Hg levels over the entire data sets for the Laberge and Kusawa samples were 0.49 ± 0.22 (n=154) and 0.39 ± 0.24 (n=133) mg g-1, respectively. In both lakes, levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale. No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge lake trout Hg levels over the last 19 years. In Kusuwa Lake, after a significant drop in the length adjusted mean Hg trout muscle concentrations in 2001, levels increased consistently until 2007, dropped in 2008, and are again on the rise. The current length adjusted mean Hg concentration is now at its highest level since 1999. As was observed with the mercury, after a rapid decline, the lipid adjusted OC concentrations seem to start to increase again around 2003/04. Significant variability in the Laberge samples is observed and as a result no temporal trends are evident.

 Key Messages

  • Currently heavy metal (mercury, selenium and arsenic) time trend data from Laberge and Kusawa Lake trout cover 19 years, 16 and 14 time points, respectively
  • The mean Hg levels over the entire data sets for the Laberge and Kusawa samples were 0.49 ± 0.22 (n=154) and 0.39 ± 0.24 (n=133) mg g-1, respectively. In both lakes, levels are just below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale.
  • No significant trends have been observed in the Laberge lake trout Hg levels over the last 19 years.
  • In Kusuwa Lake, after a significant drop in the length adjusted mean Hg trout muscle concentrations in 2001, levels increased consistently until 2007, dropped in 2008, and are again on the rise. The current length adjusted mean Hg concentration is now at its highest level since 1999.
  • As was observed with the mercury, after a rapid decline, the lipid adjusted OC concentrations seem to start to increase again around 2003/04. Significant variability in the Laberge samples is observed and as a result no temporal trends are evident.

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Temporal Trends of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Metals in Ringed Seals from the Canadian Arctic

Project leaders:

Derek Muir, Aquatic Contaminants Research Division,Environment and Climate Change Canada
Tel: 905-319-6921; Fax: 905-336-6430; Email: derek.muir@ec.gc.ca

Magali Houde, Aquatic Contaminants Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Tel: 514-496-6774; Fax: 514-496-7398; Email: magali.houde @ec gc.ca

Project Team:

Resolute Bay Hunters and Trappers, Sachs Harbour Hunters and Trappers, Arviat Hunters and Trappers; Tom Sheldon, Rodd Laing, and Katie Winters, Environment Division, Nunatsiavut Government; Xiaowa Wang, Amila De Silva, Jane Kirk, ACRD, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Burlington, ON; Mélanie Douville, ACRD, Environment and Climate Canada, Montreal, QC; Camilla Teixeira, Mary Williamson, Amy Sett, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Burlington, ON; Steve Ferguson and Brent Young, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Winnipeg, MB

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunatsiavut and more

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

The main objectives of this project are to 1) identify how concentrations of legacy contaminants (e.g. mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), other persistent organic pollutants (POPs)) are changing over time in ringed seal populations across the Canadian Arctic, and 2) to investigate the presence and trends of emerging chemicals of concern. The project currently involves, and will continue to oversee, annual sampling in Sachs Harbour (Inuvialuit Settlement Region), Resolute and Arviat (Nunavut), and Nain (Nunatsiavut) conducted by local harvesters and coordinated by the Hunters and Trappers Associations (HTAs) in each community. HTAs are supplied with sampling kits, instructions, and funding to cover coordination and administrative costs. Hunters record biological information for each animal and are paid for each completed kit. Samples of female and juvenile seal blubber are analyzed to determine trends in legacy and emerging POP concentrations (e.g. brominated, fluorinated chemicals, pesticides). Male and female seal liver samples are analyzed for mercury and other heavy metals. Lastly, muscle samples are analyzed for mercury and for carbon/nitrogen stable isotopes to assess seal diets. In 2016/17, the project will continue to analyze samples for mercury and heavy metals in addition to legacy POPs and emerging organic substances. Samples are, and will continue to be, archived for possible future contaminant studies. The annual measurements of contaminants have demonstrated that seals are very good indicators of changing usage and production of chemicals widely incorporated in consumer and industrial products.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract

The objective of this project is to determine changes in concentrations of legacy contaminants, such as PCBs and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and mercury in ringed seals. All sampling is done with the help of hunter and trapper committees in each community who are supplied with sampling kits and instructions. The sampling effort in 2015 was very successful at all four sites: Sachs Harbour, Resolute, Arviat and Nain. During the past year, we specifically assessed the spatial and temporal trends of polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in blubber of seals collected between 1998 and 2014 in the central archipelago (mainly at Resolute), Hudson Bay (Arviat and Inukjuaq) and the southern Beaufort Sea region (Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktuk) as well as perfluoroalkyl substances in liver samples. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) concentrations have declined in seals from Sachs Harbour (2011-2014) but increased in Western Hudson Bay over the same period and remained stable in Lancaster Sound. PCN levels ranged from 1 to 6 ng/g l.w. across locations and have declined in seals from 2011 to 2014. Flame retardants results indicated that the highest ΣPBDE concentrations were found in seals in Nain, Inukjuaq, and Arviat and the lowest levels in seals from Lancaster Sound. A significant decreasing trend in PBDEs since 2008 has been observed in seals from East Baffin. Blubber concentrations of newer BFRs, bis-(tribromophenoxy)-ethane(BTBPE) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD), were also found to have significantly increased at several sites during the past decade. The increases of some flame retardants in ringed seals and levels of PFASs suggest their continuous inputs in the Canadian Arctic environment.

Key messages:

  • Polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) are more prominent contaminants in seals than previously determined based on new results using improved analytical techniques
  • PCN concentrations in ringed seal blubber have declined over the period 2011-2014
  • Concentrations of existing and emerging flame retardants are increasing in some ringed seal populations
  • PFOS concentrations have declined in recent years at Sachs Harbour but appear to be on the increase in the Western Hudson Bay seals

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract

The objective of this project is to determine changes in concentrations of legacy contaminants, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury in ringed seals. All sampling is done with the help of hunter and trapper committees in each community who are supplied with sampling kits and instructions. In 2014 samples were collected by local hunters in the communities of Arviat, Nain, Resolute and Sachs Harbour. Chemical measurements were combined with results from previous years, including samples archived from the 1970s to examine the trends over time and geographical differences. Concentrations of mercury and cadmium have declined in all regions since the mid-2000s, except at Nain where trends can’t yet be determined because of a limited number of sampling years. The decline in mercury parallels what we have observed in muscle samples but was not evident in previous years due to high year to year variability. Legacy POPs in seal blubber continue to decline significantly in ringed seals from Hudson Bay and Lancaster Sound regions but show slow, non-significant trends, in the Beaufort Sea samples.

Key Messages

  • Mercury and cadmium in seal liver muscle has declined in three of the four sampling regions since the mid-2000s
  • POPs continue to decline in ringed seals from Hudson Bay and Lancaster Sound regions but show much slower declines samples from the Beaufort Sea region.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

The objective of this project is to determine changes in concentrations of legacy contaminants, such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and mercury in ringed seals. All sampling is done with the help of hunter and trapper committees in each community who are supplied with sampling kits and instructions. In 2013, samples were collected by local hunters in the communities of Nain, Resolute and Sachs Harbour. Chemical measurements were combined with results from previous years, including samples archived from the 1970s to examine the trends over time and geographical differences. Average mercury concentrations in seal muscle have declined at Arviat, Resolute and Sachs Harbour since the mid-2000s but have remained at about the same level at Nain. Legacy POPs in seal blubber generally declined but the extent varied among locations. The most rapid declines for most legacy POPs were found in Hudson Bay and slowest at Sachs Harbour. Fluorinated chemicals also declined in seals from Arviat and Resolute but continued to increase slowly at Sachs Harbour.

Key project messages

  • Mercury in seal muscle has declined in three of the four sampling regions since the mid 2000s.
  • Fluorinated chemicals declined in seals from Arviat and Resolute but continued to increase slowly at Sachs Harbour.

Synopsis (2012-2013):

The objective of this project is to determine changes in concentrations of legacy contaminants, such as PCBs and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and mercury in ringed seals. All sampling is done with the help of hunter and trapper committees in each community who are supplied with sampling kits and instructions. In 2012 samples were collected by local hunters in the communities of Arviat, Nain, Resolute and Sachs Harbour. Chemical measurements were combined with results from previous years, including samples archived from the 1970s to examine the trends over time and geographical differences. Average mercury concentrations in seal liver collected in 2012 were similar to measurements made in previous years. However mercury in seal muscle has declined significantly at Arviat and Resolute since the mid 2000s. Trends of flame retardant chemicals in seal blubber varied among locations; they declined at Arviat but continued to increase in samples from Resolute and Sachs Harbour. Fluorinated chemicals also declined in seals from Arviat and Resolute but continued to increase slowly at Sachs Harbour.

Key messages

  • Mercury in seal muscle has declined significantly at Arviat and Resolute since the mid 2000s
  • Trends of brominated and fluorinated chemicals, as well as legacy POPs such as PCBs are not the same across the Canadian arctic.

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Temporal Trends and Spatial Variations in Persistent Organic Pollutants and Metals in Sea-run Char from the Canadian Arctic

Project Leaders: Marlene S. Evans, Environment Canada, 11 Innovation Boulevard, Saskatoon, Tel: 306-975-5310, Fax: 306-975-5143, Email: marlene.evans@ec.gc.ca

Derek Muir, Environment Canada, 867 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Tel: 905-319-6921, Fax: 905-336-6430, Email: derek.muir@ec.gc.ca

 

Project Team: Alice Maghakek, Ekaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) Hunters & Trappers Organization; Les Harris, Arctic Aquatic Research Division, Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Donald S. McLennan, Canadian High Arctic Research Station; Jonathan Keating, Environment Canada, Saskatoon; Xiaowa Wang, Environment Canada, Burlington

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Canada’s Arctic

Project Duration: 2011-2015


Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract: Sea-run char are important in the diets of many northern communities. Our study is providing information on contaminant concentrations in these fish and has confirmed that levels are low; the focus has shifted to trend monitoring.  In 2014, we published a scientific paper summarizing what is known about sea-run char harvested by the various communities across northern Canada including how mercury concentrations differ from location to location and with time.  We continued to investigate trends in persistent organic contaminants and detected declines in concentration of some chemicals at Cambridge Bay and Nain, but not at Pond Inlet where the record is shorter.  In 2014, this sea-run char project was reduced to a single location, Cambridge Bay, and persistent organic contaminants are no-longer being investigated.  Marlene made a short visit to Cambridge Bay to discuss the project and explore opportunities with the creation of the CHARS research station.  Lake trout and char were provided by community fisherman from Grenier Lake where the char provided in this study are believed to reside when not in the sea.  Les Harris provided sea-run char fillet from fish caught over 2010-2014 from the Jayco, Lauchlin, and Halovik rivers for investigations of spatial differences in mercury concentrations in char between river systems and temporal trend assessments.

Key messages:

·         Mercury concentrations are very low in sea-run char across Canada.

·         Mercury concentrations have decreased in sea-run char from Cambridge Bay possibly due to increasing condition factor and climate changes.  

·         Concentrations of legacy persistent organic contaminants are very low in sea-run char with some chemicals such as DDT, chlordane and HCH showing significant trends of decrease over the long-term record.


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

With the exception of mercury monitoring at Cambridge Bay, this is the final year of our study investigating contaminant trends (spatial and temporal) in sea-run Arctic char. The study began in 2004 with sea-run char collected at 18 communities and Dolly Varden at two communities for investigations of mercury, other metals, and persistent organic contaminants. The overall rationale for the study was to provide high-quality and current data to support the assertion that contaminants are very low in sea-run char, making them a good food choice for communities wishing to maintain a traditional diet. In 2013, sea-run char were collected from Ekaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) and Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) in Nunavut and Nain in Nunatsiavut and analyzed for mercury and metals. Mercury concentrations continued to be exceedingly low in char from the three locations and well below commercial sale guidelines. A previously reported significant (but weak) trend of increasing mercury concentrations at Cambridge Bay was no longer statistically significant with the inclusion of 2013 data. Mercury concentrations in char from Nain showed no significant temporal trend over 1998-2013, while mercury concentrations in char from Pond Inlet showed a significant trend of decrease over 2005-2013. Persistent organic contaminant data were analyzed for time trends with contributions made to the next Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme report. No trends were evident in 12 compounds considered for Pond Inlet over 2004-2012; α- and γ-HCH declined at Nain over 1998-2010; and Ʃ-chlordane and Ʃ-DDT at Cambridge Bay over 1987-2013. The ability to detect time trends is severely limited by the short record, with most sites investigated only 5-7 times since 2004, and a limited historic record prior to 2004. 

Key Messages

  • Mercury concentrations were very low in sea-run char (i.e., well below the 0.5 mg·g-1 guideline for the commercial sale of fish). 
  • There was no trend in mercury concentrations in char at Cambridge Bay (1977-2013) and Nain (1998-2013) while mercury concentrations in char at Pond Inlet (2005-2013) show a significant trend of decrease.    
  • Concentrations of legacy contaminants (DDTs, CBz, HCH, chlordane, HCB and PCBs) were low.
  • The detection of temporal trends is limited by the shortness of the record and number of years (generally 5-7 years) in which fish were analyzed. 

 

This study is investigating contaminant trends in sea-run Arctic char from Ekaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) and Nain, Labrador.  While contaminant levels are low in these fish, they are being analysed because of their importance in domestic and commercial fisheries.  Global use of legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs, and DDT has dwindled. Therefore it is expected that the concentration levels in sea-run Arctic char have declined as well.  New emerging contaminants such as flame retardants and mercury will be studied as well as POPs.  A total of twenty fish will be harvested at each location just before they return inland from feeding in the sea and frozen whole for shipment to Saskatoon.  The harvesters will be paid for providing these fish and for the related shipping costs.  The data collected will be used for a variety of purposes including providing information for dietary advice, assessments of the successes of international agreements limiting contaminant use and release, and understanding how increased contaminant release and climate change may affect contaminant pathways.

Synopsis (2012-2013):

We are investigating contaminant trends in sea-run Arctic char from Ekaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) and Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). Sea-run char are being investigated because of their importance in the domestic fisheries for most coastal communities and to provide supporting information to the benefits of including these fish in country food diets. Mercury concentrations continue to be exceedingly low in char from both locations and well below commercial sale guidelines; there is a weak trend for mercury concentrations to be increasing at Cambridge Bay over 1977-2011 but not Pond Inlet where the temporal record is limited to 2005-2011. Persistent organic contaminant concentrations were low with no trend evident over the 2004- 2011 record. Limited measurements were made of contaminants concentrations in char from both locations in 1987. HCH and DDT concentrations were substantially lower in fish collected from both locations in the recent period than 1987; chlordane and CBz concentrations were lower at Cambridge Bay but not Pond Inlet. Overall, our study has determined that contaminant concentrations are low in sea-run char.

 Key Messages

  • Mercury concentrations were very low in sea-run char, i.e., well below the 0.5 mg/g guideline for the commercial sale of fish.
  • There was a trend of mercury increase at Cambridge Bay (1977-2011) but not at Pond Inlet (2005-2011) where the monitoring period is shorter.
  • Concentrations of legacy contaminants (DDT, CBz, HCH, and chlordane) were low.
  • Most legacy organic contaminants occurred in substantially lower concentrations over 2004-2011 than 1987 for char from Cambridge Bay. At Pond Inlet, only HCH and DDT concentrations were substantially lower in 1987 than 2005-2011.
  • Fish appear healthy

Synopsis (2011-2012):

Abstract
Our study is a core biomonitoring project investigating contaminant trends in sea-run Arctic char from Ekaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), the site of an important commercial fishery, and Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). Searun char are being investigated because of their importance in the domestic fisheries for most coastal communities. In 2011, twenty sea-run char were collected from Ekaluktutiak and from Mittimatalik and shipped whole to Saskatoon. Mercury analyses have been completed for 2011 caught sea-run char while persistent organochlorine analyses are ongoing. Mercury concentrations continue to be low in char from both locations and well below commercial sale guidelines; there is a weak trend for mercury concentrations to be increasing at Cambridge Bay but not Pond Inlet. Persistent organic contaminant concentrations were low with no trend evident over the 2004-2010 record. When Cambridge Bay data were compared with measurements made in the late 1980s, most contaminants occurred in substantially higher concentrations than in recent times; the exception is PCBs which have shown no change. It is possible that a smaller number of congeners were examined in the late 1980s than current times which could account for the lack of a trend. At Pond Inlet, only HCH showed evidence of a decline since the late 1980s; at that time, concentrations were substantially lower at Pond Inlet than Cambridge Bay except for PCB where concentrations were similarly low.

Key Messages

  • Mercury concentrations were very low in sea-run char caught in 2011, i.e., well below the 0.5 mg/g guideline for the commercial sale of fish.
  • There was a trend of mercury increase at Cambridge Bay (1991-2011) but not at Pond Inlet (2005-2010) where the monitoring period is shorter.
  • Concentrations of legacy contaminants (PCBs, DDT, Cbz, HCH, chlordane and toxaphene) were low.
  • Most legacy organic contaminants occurred in substantially lower concentrations over 2004-2011 than 1987 for char from Cambridge Bay; exceptions were PCB and toxaphene. It is possible that more congeners of PCB and toxaphene were measured over 2004-2010 than in 1987. At Pond Inlet, only HCH concentrations were lower in 1987 than 2005-2010. No trends were evident in PBDE concentrations over 2004 (or 2005) to 2010 for the two communities.
  • Fish appear healthy.

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Temporal trends of persistent organic pollutants and mercury in landlocked char in high Arctic lakes

Project leaders:

Derek Muir, Aquatic Contaminants Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON
Tel: (905) 319-6921; Fax: (905) 336-6430; Email: derek.muir@ec.gc.ca

Jane Kirk, Aquatic Contaminants Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON
Tel: (905) 319-6921; Fax: (905) 336-6430

Günter Köck, Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Studies, Innsbruck, Austria
Tel: +43 1 51581 1271; Fax:  +43 1 51581 1275; Email: guenter.koeck@oeaw.ac.at

Project team:

Debbie Iqaluk, Resolute Bay; Ben Barst, McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue; Ana Cabrerizo, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington; Ed Sverko and Jacques Carrier, NLET, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington; Amy Sett and Mary Williamson, Aquatic Contaminants Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington

Northern regions: Canada’s Arctic (especially Nunavut)

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

This project investigates how concentrations of contaminants in landlocked Arctic char from lakes in Nunavut are changing over time. Concentrations of pollutants in the fish, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury, will be measured and compared to existing data to determine if pollutant levels are decreasing or increasing. The project began in 1999 and now has information on long-term (i.e. 15-25 year) trends of POPs and mercury allowing for investigation into factors influencing contaminant levels in landlocked char (e.g. duration of ice in lakes, diet, and climate warming). To date, all fish collected have been analyzed for mercury and other metals. A smaller number have been analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other POPs, including new contaminants. Findings show mercury concentrations in Arctic char have declined in four lakes (i.e. Amituk, Resolute, North, and Char lakes) but are increasing in Small Lake. Furthermore, concentrations of PCBs and chlorinated pesticides are low and have declined overall between 1992/93 and 2014. In 2016/17 annual sampling of Amituk, North, Small, Hazen, and Resolute lakes in Nunavut will continue and samples will be analyzed for mercury, multi-elements, and POPs. Results of the project will continue to be reported annually to the Hunters and Trappers Association, to the Hamlet of Resolute Bay (Qausuittuq), and to the Nunavut Environmental Contaminants Committee on a timely basis.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract

This long term study is examining trends over time of mercury and other trace elements, as well as legacy and new persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in landlocked Arctic char collected annually from lakes near the community of Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island (Amituk, North, Small, and Resolute) and in Lake Hazen in Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island. In 2015, arctic char samples were successfully collected from all lakes. Results from 2015 follow the previously observed declining trends of mercury in char in Amituk, Hazen, North and Resolute lakes. No change in mercury was found for char from Small Lake. Concentrations of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) increased in char from all four lakes from the mid-2000s to 2013 although concentrations remain lower than legacy POP such as PCBs. The increases in BFRs in char contrast with declines in BFRs observed in seals and seabirds feeding in nearby Lancaster Sound and illustrates that temporal trends in freshwater environments have to be considered separately from those in the ocean.

Key messages

  • Concentrations of mercury in landlocked char have continued to decline slowly since 2005 in five of six lakes for which we have long term results
  • Legacy POPs (PCBs, DDT, chlordane) are continuing to decline in all studied lakes
  • Brominated flame retardant chemicals are generally increasing in landlocked char in all four of the studied lakes

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract

This long term study is examining trends over time of mercury and other trace elements, as well as legacy and new persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in landlocked Arctic char collected annually from lakes near the community of Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island (Amituk, North, Small, and Resolute) and in Lake Hazen in Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island. In 2014, arctic char samples were successfully collected from all lakes. With the addition of results from 2014 we continued to observed declining trends of mercury in char in Amituk, Hazen, North, and Resolute lakes. No change in mercury was found for char from Small Lake. Concentrations of fluorinated chemicals used in Teflon and in stain repellents declined in char from Hazen, Amituk and Char Lakes with the most rapid change (-26% per year) observed in Lake Hazen. The declines contrast with increasing concentrations in air of some of the precursors of these fluorinated chemicals.

Key messages

  • Concentrations of mercury concentrations in landlocked char have declined since 2005 in from five of six lakes for which we have long term results
  • Flourinated chemicals have declined in landlocked char in remote lakes on Cornwallis and Ellesmere Island.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

This long term study is examining trends over time of mercury and other trace elements, as well as legacy and new persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in landlocked Arctic char collected annually from lakes near the community of Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island (Amituk, Char, North, Small, and Resolute) and in Lake Hazen in Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island. In 2013, arctic char samples were successfully collected from all lakes except Char Lake. With the addition of results from 2013 we found declining trends of mercury in char in Amituk, Char, North, and Resolute lakes. No change in mercury was found for char from Lake Hazen.  Legacy POPs are continuing to decline in char in all lakes except in Resolute Lake where PCBs, DDT and chlordane-related chemicals continued to show no change, and toxaphene increased. Replacements for banned brominated flame retardants are increasing in Amituk, Char and Resolute lakes and were detected for the first time in Lake Hazen.

Key messages

  • Concentrations of mercury concentrations in landlocked char have declined since 2005 in from five of six lakes for which we have long term results.
  • While most legacy POPs such as hexachlorocyclohexanes, PCBs and DDT are declining some newer flame retardant chemicals are increasing.

Synopsis (2012-2013):

This long term study is examining trends over time of mercury and other trace elements, as well as legacy and new persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in landlocked Arctic char collected annually from three lakes near the community of Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island (Amituk, Char and Resolute) and in Lake Hazen in Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island. In 2012, arctic char samples were successfully collected from all four lakes. To assess trends over time, results were combined with previous results from the same lakes. With the addition of results from 2012 we found significant declining trends of mercury in char in Amituk, Char and Resolute lakes. No change in mercury was found for char from Lake Hazen. Legacy POPs are declining in char in all lakes except in Resolute Lake where PCBs, DDT and chlordane-related chemicals continued to show no change while toxaphene has increased. Replacements for banned brominated flame retardants are increasing in Amituk, Char and Resolute lakes but is still below detection limits in Lake Hazen. Fluorinated chemicals are generally showing little change in concentration in Char and Hazen lakes but one group of these chemicals continues to increase in Amituk Lake.

Key Messages

  • Concentrations of mercury concentrations in landlocked char from three of the four study lakes have declined since 2005
  • While most legacy POPs such as hexachlorocyclohexanes, PCBs and DDT are declining some newer flame retardant chemicals are increasing.

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Mercury measurements at Alert, Nunavut, and Little Fox Lake, Yukon

Project Leader:

Alexandra Steffen, Science and Technology Branch, Air Quality Processes Research, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto
Tel: (416) 739-4116; Email: Alexandra.Steffen@ec.gc.ca

Project Team:

H. Hung, and G. Stupple, Environment and Climate Change Canada; G. Skelton, Skelton Technical Services; P. Roach, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Alert GAW Laboratory Staff, Environment and Climate Change Canada; G. Lawson and J. Kirk, NWRI/CCIW, Environment and Climate Change Canada; B. Van Dijken, Council of Yukon First Nations; D. Cooke, Ta’än Kwach’än Council; Laberge Environmental Services; B. Bergquist, University of Toronto

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Yukon, Nunavut

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

This project studies levels of mercury (Hg) in Arctic air from Alert, Nunavut, and Little Fox Lake, Yukon. The primary goals of this project are to examine changes in Hg levels over time and understand how this contaminant behaves in air.  When Hg is in the air, it is either in a gaseous state or attached to dust particles. As a gas, Hg can stay in the air for a long time, but when attached to particles, it can fall onto a surface (e.g. land or water) and end up in an ecosystem. This study will provide data on the amount of Hg in the air, how it is transported to the Arctic by air, and how much falls from the air onto the ground. The data collected will be used in mathematical models to predict future scenarios of Hg levels in Arctic air. This research will contribute to furthering our understanding of how climate change may influence Hg contamination in the Arctic and how Hg affects people living in the North. This information will also support national and international policies to control the release and dispersal of Hg worldwide.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract:

Mercury (Hg) is a priority pollutant of concern in Arctic regions. The Arctic receives Hg via long range transport from source regions, which are primarily from outside of Canada. While results from atmospheric Hg concentration measurements at Alert, Nunavut show a decreasing trend (-0.987% per year for 13 years), this is a slower decline than what is observed at more southern locations. In contrast, Hg concentrations at Little Fox Lake, Yukon show an increasing trend (+1.40% per year for 8 years). This is the first recorded increasing annual trend in total gaseous mercury (TGM) in Canada. At Alert, Hg continues to show a distinct seasonal decrease in gaseous elemental Hg (GEM) in the spring. Concurrently, seasonal patterns in shorter-lived Hg species (reactive gaseous Hg, or RGM, and particle-bound Hg, PHg) continue to show a peak in PHg during early spring and a peak in RGM in late spring. The highest deposition of Hg seems to come from this springtime peak in PHg and RGM concentrations. A new method using stable isotopes is being studied to assess ways to further understand the sources of the Hg to this region and investigate processes that Hg goes through after deposition in the Arctic.

Key messages:

  • Atmospheric mercury measurements have been collected at Alert, Nunavut since 1995 and at Little Fox Lake, Yukon since 2007
  • Gaseous elemental mercury levels at Alert have decreased annually since 1995 to present and at Little Fox Lake have increased annually from 2007 to present
  • Seasonal variability in atmospheric mercury continues to be reported at both Alert and Little Fox Lake
  • The data collected as part of this program will be used as Canada’s contribution to national policies and to the assessment of effectiveness of national and international emission reduction strategies

Synopsis (2014-2015)

Abstract:

Mercury (Hg) is a global priority pollutant of concern in Arctic regions. While Canadian emissions of mercury are predicted to decrease in the coming years, global emissions are increasing. This is important because 95% of the anthropogenic mercury deposited in Canada comes from sources outside of the country. The Arctic is susceptible for receiving Hg via long range transport from source regions. The longest Arctic record of atmospheric Hg concentrations has been collected in the Canadian high Arctic at Alert, Nunavut. Trend analysis reveals that the levels are going down in the air but at a slower rate than in the high Arctic than at more southerly locations. Mercury continues to show a distinct seasonal drop in gaseous elemental Hg (GEM) in the spring. Seasonal patterns in shorter-lived mercury species (reactive gaseous Hg, or RGM, and particle-bound Hg, PHg) continues to show a peak in PHg during early spring and a peak in RGM in late spring. A new method using stable isotopes to analyze these Hg processes in the spring was validated and will be used in the future at this site. Total gaseous mercury (TGM) measurements continue to be collected in the Yukon at Little Fox Lake and seasonal variability has been revealed in the data.  

Key messages:

  • Atmospheric mercury measurements have been collected at Alert, Nunavut since 1995 and at Little Fox Lake, Yukon since 2007
  • The long term measurements are done to establish levels over time and predict future trends in long range transport of mercury to these Arctic regions
  • Seasonal variability in the atmospheric mercury continue to be reported at both Alert and Little Fox Lake
  • The data collected as part of this program will be used as Canada’s contribution to the assessment of effectiveness of national and international emission reduction strategies.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) is a global priority pollutant and continues to be of concern in Arctic regions. The longest Arctic record of atmospheric mercury concentrations has been collected in the Canadian High Arctic at Alert, Nunavut. Analysis reveals there to be less of a decreasing trend in the High Arctic than at more southerly locations. Mercury continues to show a distinct seasonal drop in gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) in the Spring. Seasonal patterns in shorter-lived mercury species (reactive gaseous mercury, or RGM, and particle-bound mercury, PHg) have been analyzed with patterns in mercury deposited in snowfall events. This analysis has shown a peak in PHg during early spring and a peak in RGM in late spring, with the highest snow Hg concentrations reported in late spring. GEM measurements continue to be collected in the Yukon at Little Fox Lake but more years of data are still required to produce a valid trend.  

Key Messages

  • Eighteen years of atmospheric mercury measurements at Alert, Nunavut and five years of atmospheric mercury measurements have been collected at Little Fox Lake, Yukon.
  • The long term measurements are done to establish levels over time and predict future trends in long range transport of mercury to these Arctic regions
  • Time trends of these data were compared to other Arctic, sub-Arctic and mid-latitude sites and showed that the levels of gaseous elemental mercury in the Arctic have not gone down as much as the non-Arctic levels
  • Analysis of reactive gaseous mercury and particle-bound mercury measurements at Alert reveal that particle-bound mercury is the dominant short-lived species in early spring while reactive gaseous mercury dominates in late spring. The highest levels of Hg in snow are most often in May

This project looks at the levels of mercury in the Arctic air from Alert, Nunavut and Little Fox Lake, Yukon. The primary goals of this project are to look at changes of mercury levels over time and determine how it behaves in the air.  Mercury is in the air as a gas or attached to dust (particles). As a gas, it stays in the air a long time but on particles it can fall onto the surface and end up in the ecosystem. This study provides data on how much mercury is in the air, how it is brought into the Arctic by air and how much falls onto the snow surfaces. The data collected is used in mathematical models to predict future scenarios of mercury in Arctic air. This information supports national and international policy negotiations to control the release of mercury worldwide. This research also contributes to understanding how climate change may influence mercury contamination in the Arctic. Finally, this research provides a part of the overall puzzle to try to understand how mercury affects those living in the north.


Synopsis (2012-2013)

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) is a global priority pollutant and continues to be of concern in Arctic regions. The longest Arctic record of atmospheric mercury concentrations have been collected in the Canadian high Arctic at Alert, Nunavut. Trend analysis reveals there to be less of a decreasing trend in the high Arctic than at more southerly locations. Mercury continues to show a distinct seasonal drop in gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) in the spring. Seasonal patterns in shorter-lived mercury species (reactive gaseous mercury, or RGM, and particle-bound mercury, PHg) have been analyzed with patterns in mercury deposited in snowfall events. This analysis has shown a peak in PHg during early spring and a peak in RGM in late spring, with the highest snow Hg concentrations reported in late spring. GEM measurements continue to be collected in the Yukon at Little Fox Lake but more years of data are still required to produce a valid trend.

Key Messages

  • Eighteen years of atmospheric mercury measurements at have been collected at Alert, Nunavut and five years of atmospheric mercury measurements have been collected at Little Fox Lake, Yukon.
  • The long term measurements are done to establish levels over time and predict future trends in long range transport of mercury to these Arctic regions
  • Time trends of these data were compared to other Arctic, sub-Arctic and mid-latitude sites and showed that the levels of GEM in the Arctic have not gone down as much as the non-Arctic levels
  • Analysis of RGM and PHg measurements at Alert reveal that PHg is the dominant short-lived species in early spring while RGM dominates in late spring. The highest levels of Hg in snow are most often in May.

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Passive Air Sampling Network for Organic Pollutants and Mercury

Project Leaders:

Hayley Hung, Science and Technology Branch, Air Quality Processes Research, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto
Tel: (416) 739-5944; Email: Hayley.Hung@ec.gc.ca

Alexandra Steffen, Science and Technology Branch, Air Quality Processes Research
Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto
Tel: (416) 739-4116; Fax: (416) 739-4318; Email: Alexandra.Steffen@ec.gc.ca

Project Team:

L. Jantunen, F. Wong, T. Harner, G. Stupple, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Pat Roach, Michael Brown, and Meaghan Bennett, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Bob Van Dijken, Council of Yukon First Nations; Derek Cooke, Ta’än Kwach’än Council; Organics Analysis Laboratory, Environment and Climate Change Canada; C. Mitchell and Frank Wania, University of Toronto; Caterine Pinard, Michael Barrett, Veronique Gilbert, Monica Nashak, Kativik Regional Government; Donald S. McLennan, Angulalik Pedersen, and Johann Wagner, Polar Knowledge Canada; Jamessee Moulton, Karlene Napayok, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut; Erika Hille, William Hurst, Aurora Research Institute, Aurora College; Matthew Seaboyer , Government of the Northwest Territories; Diane Giroux, and Annie Boucher, Akaitcho Territory Government; Rosie Bjornson, and Patrick Simon , Deninu Kue First Nation (DKFN), Fort Resolution; Kara King and Shawn Mckay, Fort Resolution Métis Council; Tausia Lal, Hamlet of Fort Resolution; Rodd Laing, and Liz Pijogge , Nunatsiavut Government; Tim Heron , Northwest Territory Métis Nation

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Northern Canada

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Currently, there are few locations in the Canadian Arctic where pollutants in the air, namely persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury, are being measured. In order to increase the number of sample sites across the North, this project will oversee the development and implementation of passive sampling to measure these pollutants at multiple locations. Passive sampling refers to collecting contaminants from the air using an outdoor trap without pumps. Passive samplers are a low-cost, low-maintenance way to monitor air pollutants and ideally suited to the Arctic environment. This method is also suitable for involving Northern students or other interested persons in sampling, thereby creating communication and training opportunities. In October 2014, POP passive air samplers and sampling materials were sent to 7 sites across the North to start air sampling. In 2016/17, the POP samples collected thus far will be analyzed and an extensive field test of a mercury passive sampler will be conducted. In addition, this work will engage a Northern student around the integration of traditional knowledge with project activities in the Yukon region. Over the span of 3-4 years, this project will eventually produce air concentrations for multiple pollutants from a network of sites across the North. These data will help researchers determine the paths pollutants take to get to the Arctic and how changes in sources and landscape affect the way mercury and POPs travel through the air and enter the Arctic environment.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract:

This project measures pollutants, namely persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury, in the air at multiple locations across Canada’s North. When POPs and mercury enter the ecosystem, they may affect the health of northerners.  Currently, there are few locations in Canada’s Arctic where these pollutants are being measured. Pollutants are carried through the air from more southerly regions to the Arctic, and expanding the number of locations where they are measured will provide more information about where they come from and how they are changing over time. To increase the geographical coverage and to obtain a more comprehensive picture of the levels of pollutants, passive sampling methods are used. Passive air samplers (PASs) are a low-cost, low-maintenance way to monitor air pollutants and therefore ideally suited to the Arctic environment. This method also provides opportunities for involving students or other interested persons in sample collection, enhancing communication between the project team and local communities as well as creating training opportunities for Northern students. The project will gather data over 3-4 years, eventually producing air concentrations of multiple pollutants at a network of sites across the North. Passive air samplers and sampling material were sent to seven sites across the North to start air sampling in October 2014. Some issues were encountered resulting in the delayed starts but most sites are in full operation and we continue to work on resolving the issues to get all sites up and running. Laboratory and initial tests for developing a passive mercury air sampler were completed and a scientific paper reporting progress on this work has been published. Project Principal Investigators visited Iqaluit (Nunavut), Whitehorse (Yukon) and Kuujjuaq (Nunavik) to discuss with the respective Regional Contaminants Committees and community leaders about the project plans and site selections.  They also conducted communication/ capacity building activities, including lectures at the Nunavut Arctic College and the Jaanimmarik School in Kuujjuaq; and a webinar at the Yukon College.

Key messages:

In 2015/16, the project team continued to focus on coordinating the installation of passive air sampling sites and collection of first samples, as well as communication, consultation and capacity building:

  • Passive air sampling equipment has been sent to seven arctic sites and most stations were in operation since October 2014.
  • Project Principal Investigators visited Iqaluit (Nunavut), Whitehorse (Yukon) and Kuujjuaq (Nunavik) to discuss with the respective Regional Contaminants Committees and community leaders about the science activities and communication/outreach plans under this project. They also conducted communication/capacity building activities, including giving lectures at the Nunavut Arctic College and the Jaanimmarik School in Kuujjuaq ;and a webinar at the Yukon College
  • Prototypes of the mercury passive air samplers are currently being tested at Alert (Nunavut) and Little Fox Lake (Yukon) to compare with the automated active mercury sampling systems there.  Once they are fully tested, they will be used at the seven passive air sampling sites to measure air concentrations of mercury.

Synopsis (2014-2015)

Abstract:

This project measures pollutants, namely persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury, in the air at multiple locations across Canada’s North. When POPs and mercury enter the ecosystem, they may affect the health of northerners.  Currently, there are few locations in Canada’s Arctic where these pollutants are being measured. Pollutants are carried through the air from more southerly regions to the Arctic, and expanding the number of locations where they are measured will provide more information about where they come from and how they are changing over time. In order to increase the geographical coverage so that scientists can obtain a more comprehensive picture of the levels of pollutants, passive sampling methods are used. Passive air samplers (PASs) are a low-cost, low-maintenance way to monitor air pollutants and therefore ideally suited to the Arctic environment. The simplicity of the method is also suitable for involving students or other interested persons in sample collection, enhancing communication between the project team and local communities as well as creating training opportunities for Northern students. The project will ramp up over 3-4 years, eventually producing air concentrations of multiple pollutants at a network of sites across the north. These data will help researchers determine the paths that pollutants take to get to the Arctic and, after a longer time, how changes in sources and the landscape affect how mercury and POPs travel through the air and enter the Arctic environment.  Passive air sampling for POPs has been initiated in 2014-2015 at seven sites across the North.  Laboratory tests for developing a passive mercury air sampler have started. Project Principal Investigators visited Iqaluit (NU), Whitehorse (YK) and Fort Resolution (NWT) to discuss with the respective Regional Contaminants Committees and community leaders about the project plans and site selections.  They also conducted communication/ capacity building activities, including presentations at the Nunavut Arctic College and the Deninu School in Fort Resolution.

Key messages:

In 2014-2015, the project team focused on coordinating the installation of passive air sampling sites, as well as communication, consultation and capacity building:

  • Passive air sampling equipment has been sent to 7 arctic sites and most stations were in operation since October 2014.  Remote training was provided for all site operators.
  • Project Principal Investigators visited Iqaluit (NU), Whitehorse (YK) and Fort Resolution (NWT) to discuss with the respective Regional Contaminants Committees and community leaders about the science activities and communication/outreach plans under this project.  They also conducted communication/capacity building activities, including producing and distributing 3 training videos on deploying passive air samplers for persistent organic pollutant measurements and gave a seminar at the Deninu School in Fort Resolution.
  • Funding has been acquired from Environment Canada under a Grants and Contribution agreement and an NSERC Strategic Grant to the University of Toronto to continue the field and laboratory testing of the mercury passive air sampler that was developed with NCP seed funding in 2013-2014.  When thoroughly tested, this type of sampler will be deployed at the 7 northern stations under this project.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

This new project aims to measure pollutants that can affect the health of Northerners, namely persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury, in the air at multiple locations across Canada’s North. These pollutants are carried through the air from more southerly regions to the Arctic. Expanding the number of locations where they are measured using low-cost, low-maintenance passive air samplers will provide more information about where they come from and how they are changing over time. Passive samplers are ideally suited to the Arctic environment and the simplicity of the method is also suitable for involving students or other interested persons in sample collection, enhancing communication between the project team and local communities as well as creating training opportunities for Northern students. The project will ramp up over 3-4 years, eventually producing air concentrations of multiple pollutants at a network of sites across the North. These data will help researchers determine the paths that pollutants take to get to the Arctic and, after a longer time, how changes in sources and the landscape affect how mercury and POPs travel through the air and enter the Arctic environment. This year, the team initiated the community consultation process, aiming at deploying passive air samplers for POPs at seven sites in 2014-2015.  Information slides on the POPs passive air samplers were sent to the Regional Contaminants Committees and potential sampling operators. The team also initiated the development of the mercury passive air sampler composed of a small cylindrical container for activated carbon inserted into a diffusion tube of the commercial Radiello® type passive air sampler.  Project leaders visited Iqaluit (NU), Whitehorse (YT) and Nain (NL) to discuss with the respective Regional Contaminants Committees about the project plans and site selections.  They also conducted communication/capacity building activities, including lectures at the Nunavut Arctic College, the Yukon College and the Jens Haven Memorial School in Nain.

Key Messages

In 2013-2014, the project team focused on communication, consultation and capacity building, as well as initiating the development of a mercury passive air sampler.

  • Consultation took place with the Regional Contaminants Committees and community representatives on project plans and potential passive air sampling site locations.
  • Project leaders visited Iqaluit (NU), Whitehorse (YT) and Nain (NL) to discuss the science activities and communication/outreach plans under this project with the respective Regional Contaminants Committees. They also conducted communication/capacity building activities, including lectures at the Nunavut Arctic College, the Yukon College and the Jens Haven Memorial School in Nain.
  • The project team also initiated the development of the mercury passive air sampler composed of a small cylindrical container for activated carbon inserted into a diffusion tube of the commercial Radiello® type passive air sampler. 

This project will measure persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury in the air at multiple locations across Canada’s North. These pollutants are carried through the air from more southerly regions to the Arctic, and expanding the number of locations where they are measured will provide more information about where they come from and how they are changing over time. Passive samplers are a low-cost, low-maintenance way to monitor air pollutants and therefore ideally suited to the Arctic environment. The simplicity of the method is also suitable for involving students or other interested persons in sample collection, enhancing communication between the project team and local communities as well as creating training opportunities for Northern students.  These data will help researchers determine the paths that pollutants take to get to the Arctic and, after a longer time, how changes in sources and the landscape affect how mercury and POPs travel through the air and enter the Arctic environment.

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Temporal Trend Studies of Trace Metals and Halogenated Organic Contaminants (HOCs), Including New and Emerging Persistent Compounds, in Mackenzie River Burbot, Fort Good Hope, NWT

Project leader: 

Gary A. Stern, Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS), Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba
Tel: (204) 474-9084, Email: Gary.stern@umanitoba.ca

Project team:

Bev Ross, Freshwater Institute, Department of Fisheries and Oceans; Alexis Burt, University of Manitoba; Fort Good Hope Renewable Resource Council and community members.

Northern Regions: NWT

Project Duration: ongoing


Project Summary (2016-2017)

The objective of this project is to maintain current data on contaminant levels in Mackenzie River burbot, specifically in Rampart Rapids, Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories. On-going assessment of the temporal trends in bioaccumulating substances will be continued in order to determine whether the levels of these contaminants in fish are increasing or decreasing with time. This information will provide insight into the health of the fish stock and exposure to Arctic residents who consume these fish as part of their traditional diet. Contaminants assessed as part of this long-term study include trace metals (e.g. mercury and selenium), organochlorine contaminants (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), toxaphene), selected current-use chemicals (e.g. brominated flame retardants and fluorinated organic compounds). Tissues from burbot collected at Fort Good Hope in December 2016 will be analyzed for mercury and selenium. Mercury data from this time point will be combined with the existing data covering a time span of 31 years and 21 time points.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract

Tissues from burbot collected at Fort Good Hope (Rampart Rapids) in January 2016 were analysed for mercury (Hg), Selenium (Se) and Arsenic (As). Data 2016 was combined with existing metal data that contains 20 observations over a span of 30 years. No significant correlation between length and mercury concentration was observed with muscle or liver for either sex. Mean Hg concentrations in muscle and liver over the entire data sets were 0.359 ± 0.141 (n = 642) and 0.098 ± 0.085 (n = 648) g g-1, respectively. Muscle mercury levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 g g-1 for commercial sale.

Key messages

  • Mean Hg concentrations in muscle and liver over the entire data sets were 0.359 ± 0.141 (n = 642) and 0.098 ± 0.085 (n = 648) g g-1, respectively.
  • Since the mid-1980s, an approximate 2- and 3-fold increase in mercury concentrations has been measured in Fort Good burbot muscle and liver, respectively.
  • Muscle liver and mercury levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 g g-1 for commercial sale.
  • ΣHCB, ΣHCH, ΣDDT, ΣCHB and ΣPCB wet weight concentrations (±SD) in ng/g for the 2015 liver samples were 5.25 (2.94), 0.47 (0.18), 8.89 (2.98), 4.54 (7.67) and 14.84 (6.10), respectively.

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract

Tissues from burbot collected at Fort Good Hope (Rampart Rapids) in December 2014 were analysed for mercury (Hg), selenium (Se) and arsenic (As). Data from this time point was combined with the existing metal data (1985, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) together covering a time span of 29 years. No significant correlation between length and mercury concentration was observed with muscle or liver for either sex. Mean Hg concentrations in muscle and liver over the entire data sets were 0.361 ± 0.140 (n = 320) and 0.096 ± 0.083 (n = 607) mg·g-1, respectively. Muscle mercury levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg·g-1 for commercial sale.

Key messages

  • Mean Hg concentrations in muscle and liver over the entire data sets were 0.361 ± 0.140 (n = 620) and 0.096 ± 0.083 (n = 607) mg·g-1, respectively.
  • Since the mid-1980s, an approximate 2- and 3-fold increase in mercury concentrations has been measured in Fort Good burbot muscle and liver, respectively.
  • Muscle liver and mercury levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg·g-1 for commercial sale.

Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

Tissues from burbot collected at Fort Good Hope (Rampart Rapids) in December 2013 were analysed for organohalogen contaminants (OCs/PCPs/BFRs/FOCs) and heavy metals (Hg/Se/As). Data from this time point was combined with the existing metal and OC data  together covering time spans of 28 and 25 years, respectively. No significant correlation between length and mercury concentration was observed with muscle or liver for either sex. Mean Hg concentrations in muscle and liver over the entire data sets were 0.355 ± 0.137 (n = 582) and 0.092 ± 0.078 (n = 569) mg g-1, respectively. Muscle mercury levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale. Major PBDE congener  levels have increase significantly over the 19-year period from 1988 to 2008 but are currently still about one order of magnitude less than those of PCBs. Since 1986, a consistent decline was observed in both PFOA and PFOS concentrations. Conversely, PFDA concentrations show a consistent increase over time. PFNA and PFUA levels peaked in 2003.

Key Messages

  • Mean Hg concentrations in muscle and liver over the entire data sets were 0.355 ± 0.137 (n = 582) and 0.092 ± 0.078 (n = 569) mg g-1, respectively.
  • Since the mid-1980s, an approximate 2- and 3-fold increase in mercury concentrations has been measured in Fort Good burbot muscle and liver, respectively.
  • Muscle liver and mercury levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale.
  • Significant declines, 10- and 4-fold, occurred for both a- and g-HCH over a 23-year time period between 1988 and 2013.
  • PBDE concentration seems to have peaked in the mid-2000s, and are now on the decline.
  • Current SPBDE levels are approximately one order of magnitude less than those of PCBs.
  • Since 1986, a consistent decline was observed in both PFOA and PFOS concentrations. Conversely, PFDA concentrations show a consistent increase over time. PFNA and PFUA levels peaked in 2003.

Synopsis (2012-2013)

Abstract

Tissues from burbot collected at Fort Good Hope (Rampart Rapids) in December 2012 were analysed for organohalogen contaminants (OCs/PCPs/BFRs/FOCs) and heavy metals (Hg/Se/As). Data from this time point was combined with the existing metal data (1985, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and OC (1988, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) together covering time spans of 27 and 24 years, respectively. No significant correlation between length and mercury concentration was observed with muscle or liver for either sex. Mean Hg concentrations in muscle and liver over the entire data sets were 0.356 ± 0.138 (n = 545) and 0.092 ± 0.078 (n = 532) mg g-1, respectively. Muscle mercury levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale. Major PBDE congener levels have increase significantly over the 19 year period from 1988 to 2008 but, are currently still about one order of magnitude less than those of PCBs. Since 1986, a consistent decline was observed in both PFOA and PFOS concentrations. Conversely, PFDA concentrations show consistent increase overtime. PFNA and PFUA levels peaked in 2003.

 Key Messages

  • Mean Hg concentrations in muscle and liver over the entire data sets were 0.356 ± 0.138 (n = 545) and 0.092 ± 0.078 (n = 532) mg g-1, respectively.
  • Since the mid-1980s, an approximate 2- and 3-fold increase in mercury concentrations has been measured in Fort Good burbot muscle and liver, respectively.
  • Muscle liver and mercury levels are below the recommended guideline level of 0.50 mg g-1 for commercial sale.
  • Significant declines, 10- and 4-fold, occurred for both a- and g-HCH over 23 year time period between 1988 and 2011.
  • PBDE concentration seemed to have peaked in the mid-2000s and are now on the decline.
  • Current SPBDE levels are approximately one order of magnitude less than those of PCBs.
  • Since 1986, a consistent decline was observed in both PFOA and PFOS concentrations. Conversely, PFDA concentrations show consistent increase overtime. PFNA and PFUA levels peaked in 2003.

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Temporal Trends of Heavy Metals and Halogenated Organic Compounds in Hendrickson Island, Sanikiluaq and Pangnirtung Beluga

Project Leader: Gary A. Stern and Lisa Loseto, Department of Fisheries & Oceans, Winnipeg, MB
E-mail, Gary.Stern@dfo-mpo.gc.ca, Lisa.Loseto@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Project Team:

  • Gail Boila, Lyle Lockhart, Joanne Delaronde, Allison Machutchon, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Canada’s Arctic

Project Duration: 2012-2014


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

The objectives of this ongoing study are to maintain current data on contaminant levels in marine mammals and to continue to assess the temporal trends of halogenated organic compounds. This will allow us to determine whether the levels of these compounds in the marine mammals, and hence exposure to Arctic people who traditionally consume them, are changing with time. These results will also help to test the effectiveness of international controls and, in conjunction with projects such as ArcticNet, to understand the effects that climate variation may have on these contaminant levels.

 

Key Messages

  • In 2013, tissue samples from 44 Hendrickson Island and 12 Sanikiluaq animals were sampled and received. Samples collected and analysed to date are shown in Table 1 & 2. No samples were received from Pangnirtung.
  • We now have a unique long-term data set for halogenated organic compounds in western Arctic beluga: 17 time points spanning 24 years.
  • 2013 samples were analyzed at ALS Environmental.
  • No trends were observed for major organic compounds groups in the western Arctic beluga. In particular, hexachlorocyclohexane levels are not showing the declines observed atmospherically and in the Arctic Ocean since the ban in the usage of the technical mixture by China in 1983 and followed by India in 1990.

The objectives of this project are to maintain current data on contaminant levels in Arctic beluga and to continue to assess the temporal trends of bioaccumulating substances such as heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs).This will allow us to determine whether contaminant levels in the beluga, and hence exposure to Arctic people who traditionally consume them, are changing with time. These results will also help to test the effectiveness of international controls and, in conjunction with projects such as ArcticNet and the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment (BREA) to understand the effects that climate variation may have on these contaminant levels. Climate variation has been attributed to observed changes to atmospheric sea-level pressure, wind fields, sea-ice drift, ice cover length of melt season, precipitation patterns, hydrology and ocean currents and water mass distribution. Because contaminants enter global systems and transport through the air and water, the changes listed above will clearly alter contaminants pathways and ultimately the levels observed in the Arctic marine ecosystem.

Synopsis (2012-2013):

Samples of liver, kidney, muscle and muktuk of beluga whales collected in 2011 or 2012 were analyzed for total mercury and selenium. Levels of mercury remained similar to ranges established in previous years. Of the organs analyzed in this study, liver typically had the highest concentrations of mercury, followed by kidney, muscle and muktuk. For example, the mean concentration of total mercury in 29 liver samples of beluga from Hendrickson Island in 2012 was 27.3 ± 27.0 µg·g-1 while that of muktuk from the same animals was 0.59 ± 0.18 µg·g-1. Data from these samples were added to the growing database on concentrations of these elements in organs of arctic marine mammals. The database now contains information on over 1300 arctic beluga from several locations over the period from 1977 to 2012. Mercury content varies among species, among individual animals, and among organs within an animal. This variation makes rigorous detection of differences among animals, places and times statistically difficult. Detection of differences among samples is further complicated by the fact that mercury accumulates with age so that older animals usually have higher levels than younger ones from the same location. Consequently comparison of mercury levels among different groups of beluga requires adjustment for differing ages; accurate age data are essential. The additional samples obtained each year improve the chances of detecting differences if they are real and reduce the chances of reporting apparent differences if they are not real. Usually the chemical analyses are completed prior to the age determinations and so there is a lag in interpretation of the data.

Key Messages

  • New data were obtained on total mercury and selenium in organs of beluga from Hendrickson Island, Kendall Island, Paulatuk, Arviat and Sanikiluaq.
  • Mean concentrations of total mercury in liver of the whales from the Mackenzie Delta exceeded 25 µg·g-1 while those from Paulatuk averaged 16.8 µg·g-1. The comparable values for liver from Arviat and Sanikiluaq were 12.7 µg·g-1 and 11.8 µg·g-1 respectively.
  • Concentrations of total mercury in liver were much higher than those in the other organs analyzed. The second highest concentrations were found in kidney, followed by muscle and muktuk.
  • Concentrations of selenium often correlated with those of mercury. Evidence is growing indicating that the complex between mercury and selenium is a means by which the toxicity of mercury is reduced. Normally selenium and mercury are present in roughly a 1:1 atomic ratio but selenium in muktuk was in much higher excess over mercury. 

Synopsis (2011-2012):

Abstract
Additional samples of liver, kidney, muktuk and muscle of beluga whales were collected in 2011/2012 and analyzed for mercury and selenium. These new data were added to the growing database on concentrations of these elements in arctic marine mammals. All the new samples reported here were from beluga and none from narwhal or walrus. Mercury content varies among organs within an animal and among animals from a given site and time of collection. The growing data on mercury and selenium in these animals offer opportunities to test for differences among organs within individual animals at specific times and locations, among regions for particular organs and species and among years at locations where collections have been made repetitively. Tests for changes that relate to time or location or other variables become increasingly rigorous as new collections supply additional data. Of the organs analyzed in this study, liver typically has the highest concentrations of mercury, followed by kidney, muscle and muktuk. Mercury levels in any of the organs analyzed varied considerably from animal to animal with standard deviations often half or even more of the mean value, making it statistically difficult to detect differences among samples. Estimation of temporal change is complicated by the fact that mercury accumulates with age so that older animals usually have higher levels than younger ones from the same location. The role of age was further complicated for beluga when it was learned that these whales form one growth layer group in their teeth per year, not two as had been assumed previously (Stewart et al, 2006). Ages reported from before this information was developed have been doubled and recent age data are reported on the basis of one layer per year. Since the basis of comparison of mercury levels among different groups of beluga requires adjustment for differing ages, age data are critical. Usually the chemical analyses are completed prior to the age determinations and so there is a lag in the interpretations. Mercury and selenium in liver are related statistically and this is hypothesized to be the result of the formation of HgSe in biological tissues, possibly as a means to detoxify mercury.

Key Messages

  • New data were obtained on levels of mercury and selenium in four organs of beluga from Hendrickson Island (n=18), Arviat (n=15) and Sanikiluaq (n=13). Ages for these whales are not available yet
  • The average level of mercury in liver of the eighteen beluga from Hendrickson Island in 2011 was 25.7 μg-g-1 (wet weight), well above the average value of 16.3 μg-g-1 obtained in 2010 but consistent with earlier average values from 2004 to 2009. The levels were scattered widely as indicated by the standard deviation of 24.0 μg-g-1, almost as great as the average. The lowest value for liver in 2011 was 3.12 μg-g-1 and the highest was 70.5 μg-g-1. All but one of the whales sampled from this location in 2011 were males.
  • The fifteen beluga sampled from Arviat in 2011 averaged 14.5 μg-g-1 mercury in liver, similar to the average value obtained in 2010 (15.9 μg-g-1). Again the values were spread widely from 0.77 to 38.5 μg-g-1 for a standard deviation of 11.4 μg-g-1. The lowest value of 0.77 μg-g-1 is unusual and might be expected from a very young animal; we do not have ages but it was not from a particularly small animal (male, 383.5 cm long). The samples were biased toward males (10 males, 3 females, 2 not determined) but not so extremely as those from Hendrickson Island.
  • The average level of mercury in livers from the thirteen beluga from Sanikiluaq in 2011 was 16.2 μg-g-1, within the range of average values from this location in previous samples. The range of individual values in 2011 was from 2.14 μg-g-1 to 60.8 μg-g-1. Unlike Hendrickson Island and Arviat, the whales from Sanikiluaq were predominately females (7 female, 4 male and 2 not determined). The average length of this sample of beluga was the shortest we have recorded from this location to date (334 cm) as compared with a range of previous average lengths from 341 cm to 392 cm).
  • Average levels of mercury in liver (means from 14.5 to 25.7 μg-g-1) of beluga from all three locations in 2011 remained well above 0.5 μg-g-1 (the guideline used to regulate the sale of commercial fish in Canada). Considering the individual livers, all forty-six exceeded the fish guideline. The same was true for levels of mercury in kidney samples although mean levels were much lower than those in liver. Levels in muscle were lower yet with all locations having average values around 1 μg-g-1. One whale from Sanikiluaq (the smallest one sampled) actually had very low muscle mercury at 0.28 μg-g-1, below the guideline. Levels in muktuk were the lowest with all three locations having mean levels near the guideline of 0.5 μg-g-1 (Hendrickson Island 0.54 μg-g-1, Arviat 0.39 μg-g-1, Sanikiluaq 0.50 μg-g-1 ).
  • Mercury and selenium in samples of liver and kidney from Hendrickson Island were strongly correlated statistically. However, there was no statistical relationship between mercury and selenium in liver or muktuk in the whales from this location. Muktuk contained more selenium per weight of mercury than the other organs.
  • In 2011, levels of mercury in liver of whales from Hendrickson Island were again higher than those from either Hudson Bay community. With the exception of 2010, the levels found in beluga from the Mackenzie Delta have generally been higher than in those from eastern sites
  • The question of temporal change in levels of mercury is of interest one of the primary purposes of this study. It is complicated by a relationship between mercury in organs and the ages of the whales. We still lack age data for a number of collections and for all samples in 2011. As more age data become available, more rigorous statistical examinations will be made for temporal trends by transforming data to reduce correlations between means and standard deviations and by adjusting mercury levels for whales of different ages.

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Quantifying Contaminant Loadings, Water Quality and Climate Change Impacts in the World's Largest Lake North of 74° Latitude (Lake Hazen, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut)

Project Leader:

Vincent L. St. Louis, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9
Phone: (780) 492-9386
E-mail: vince.stlouis@ualberta.ca

Derek M. Muir, Environment Canada, 867 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario L7R 4A6
Phone: (905) 319-6921
E-mail: derek.muir@ec.gc.ca

Project Team:

  • Dr. Igor Lehnherr, University of Waterloo;
  • Craig Emmerton, Hayley Kosolofski, University of Alberta;
  • Charles Talbot, Environment Canada;
  • Steven Akeeagok, Douglas Stern, Parks Canada

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Nunavut

Project Duration: 2013-2014


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

Human activities have elevated atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to levels that have resulted in an unequivocal warming of the Earth’s climate. This is especially true in the High Arctic, where in the past century average annual temperatures have increased at almost twice the global rate. Such warming is anticipated to result in numerous ecological impacts, including permafrost thaw and glacial melt, increased surface runoff, and enhanced productivity on landscapes. Human activities have also resulted in unprecedented releases of contaminants to the atmosphere, many of which make their way to the High Arctic. Unfortunately in many regions of the High Arctic, it is largely unknown how much change has already occurred since the beginning of industrialization and what the current state of Arctic ecosystem health is in general. We are monitoring contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts (e.g., levels of productivity) in the world’s largest lake north of 74° latitude (Lake Hazen, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut). From a socio-economic perspective, understanding present-day contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts is important for predicting how the abundances and quality of certain organisms used as Inuit traditional foods may be altered by future human activities.

 

Key Messages

  • Mercury (Hg) and perfluorinated contaminants (PFCs) found in snow are entering Lake Hazen during spring melt and potentially entering the food web at the rapid onset of lake productivity at that time.
  • Due to warming surface temperatures of glaciers in the Lake Hazen watershed during the past 7 years, glacier melt has accelerated, resulting in more rapid flushing of water through, as well as delivery of contaminants to, Lake Hazen.
  • Lake Hazen is becoming ice-free in the summer more frequently, and is staying ice-free longer into the autumn.
  • Lengthening of the ice-free season is resulting in changes in algae productivity in Lake Hazen.

Human activities have elevated atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to levels that have resulted in warming of the Earth’s climate. This is especially true in the high Arctic, where in the past century average annual temperatures have increased at almost twice the global rate. Such warming is anticipated to result in numerous ecological impacts, including permafrost thaw and glacial melt, increased surface runoff, and enhanced productivity on landscapes. Human activities have also resulted in unprecedented releases of contaminants to the atmosphere, many of which make their way to the high Arctic. Unfortunately in many regions of the high Arctic, it is largely unknown how much change has already occurred since the beginning of industrialization and what the current state of Arctic ecosystem health is in general. We are monitoring contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts in the world’s largest lake north of 74° latitude (Lake Hazen, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut). From a socio-economic perspective, understanding present-day contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts is important for predicting how the abundances and quality of certain organisms used as Inuit traditional foods may be altered by future human activities.    

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New and emerging persistent halogenated compounds in beluga whales from Sanikiluaq (Nunavut)

Project Leaders:

 Gregg Tomy, Department of Chemistry, University of Manitoba, Tel: 204-474-8127, Email: gregg.tomy@umanitoba.ca; Lisa Loseto, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, Email:lisa.loseto@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Project Team Members and their Affiliations: Thor Halldorson, Lianna Bestvater, University of Manitoba; Kerri Pleskach, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; Ed Sverko and Chris Marvin, Environment Canada

Northern Regions Included in the Study: Hudson Bay, Nunavut

Project Duration: 2012-2015


Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract

This study examined the temporal trends of halogenated organic chemicals in beluga whales from Sanikiluaq (Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut).  Our time-series for this site included animals collected from 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 (n=10 in each year).  The chemicals we measured include the suite of fluorinated surfactants, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, phosphorus based flame retardants and short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs).  Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) was detected most frequently in animals collected in 2011 with a detection frequency of 80%; mean blubber 6-HBCD concentrations ranged from 1.7 – 4.5 ng/g (lw) with a mean of 2.9 ± 0.9 ng/g (lw) and 8-HBCD concentrations ranged from 1.1-10.3 ng/g (lw) for that year.  None of the isomers were detected in animals collected in 2005 but the 6-isomer was detected in 30% of the animals from 2007 (range: 1.2-1.8 ng/g) and 2009 (range: 2.2-3.7 ng./g).  In 2013, the 6-isomer was detected in 3 animals at a mean concentration of 2.5±0.4 ng/g (lw) and the 8-isomer detected in one animal (2 ng/g, lw).  Liver based concentrations of the perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAs) all showed declining trends.  For example, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was present in greatest amounts in animals collected in 2005 at 112±68 ng/g (ww) and by 2013 concentrations had declined to 35±17 ng/g.  The annual rate of decline of PFOS in the animals measured as the slope of concentration vs collection year was estimated to be ca. 15 ng/g per year.  Liver-based concentrations of C9-C12 perfluorocarboxylic acids (Σ4PFCAs) (the C8 acid was undetected in all the animals) also showed a decline over our study period at a rate of ca. 4 ng/g per year.  There was a strong relationship between PFOS and perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA) concentrations suggesting that PFOSA is the dominant PFOS-precursor in the animals.  The suite of other contaminants not reported on here are currently being measured in the animals.        

 

Key Messages

·         HBCD was infrequently detected in all sampling years except for animals collected in 2011 where HBCD was detected in 80% of the animals.  Total HBCD concentrations were less than 5 ng/g (lw) in the animals with no discerning temporal trend evident.

·         Overall, PFAs concentrations were found to be decreasing in the animals.  The rate of decline for PFOS was ca. 15 ng/g per year while for Σ4PFCAs the rate of decline was estimated to be ca. 4 ng/g per year. 

·         The PFOS precursor, PFOSA, was detected at the greatest concentrations in the animals.  Mean concentrations in animals collected in 2005 was 632±232 ng/g and in 2013 PFOSA concentrations were 110±30 ng/g (ww).


Project Summary (2013-2014)

Abstract

This long-term study examined the temporal trends of halogenated organic chemicals in beluga whales from Hendrickson Island (HI), Northwest Territories).  We are also constructing a new time-series for animals collected from Sanikiluaq, in the Qikiqtaaluk Regionof Nunavut.Our time-series for both collection sites dates back to the early 1980s for HI and early 1990s for Sanikiluaq and the resolution or frequency of our time-series is particularly strong for samples collected post-2000: in the HI animals, for example, our data-set includes collections from 1984, 1993 and every year from 2000 to 2010. For Sanikiluaq, we have a total of 14 time points sampled over 18 years (1994, 1995, 1998, 2002-2013). The chemicals we measured include the suite of fluorinated surfactants, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, phosphorus based flame retardants and short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs). Brominated dipehnyl ethers (BDEs) were the dominant bromine-based flame retardant with concentrations approximately five times greater than hexabromocyclodecane (HBCD). There was a small but statistically significant increase in Σ6BDEs in HI animals (p<0.01, r2=0.1451) resulting in a calculated increase of 0.4 ± 0.1 ng•g-1 per year. There was no apparent trend in HBCD concentrations in HI animals. Mean concentrations of Σ6BDEs and Σ2HBCD in animals from Sanikiluaq (2013) were 34.5 ± 6.8 and 2.8 ± 0.4 ng•g-1 (lw), respectively, and were not statistically different to concentrations in HI collected in 2013. Liver-based concentrations of C8-C12 perfluorocarboxylic acids (Σ5PFCAs) in animals from HI showed a decline over our study period at a rate of ca. 4.5 ng•g-1 per year. Σ5PFCAs in animals from Sanikiluaq were significantly smaller than in animals from HI collected in the same year. For PFOS, there was linear increase (0.53 ± 0.10 ng•g-1, per year) in measured concentrations between 1984 and 2000 (r2=0.4319, p<0.01) in animals from HI. Between 2000 and 2010, PFOS concentrations were relatively stable but we observed a notable increase in 2011 followed by a decrease in 2012 and again in 2013.       

Key Messages

  • Σ6BDEs were the dominant bromine-based flame retardant with concentrations continuing to increase in animals from HI at a rate of 0.4 ± 0.1 ng•g-1 per year.  Σ2HBCD concentrations in animals from both locations were approximately five times smaller than those of Σ6BDEs.
  • Concentrations of Σ5PFCAs in beluga from HI showed a significant decrease in concentrations of a rate of approximately 4.5 ng•g-1 per year. Concentrations of Σ5PFCAs in animals from Sanikiluaq were 21.7 ± 2.8 ng•g-1 (ww) and significantly smaller than in animals from HI (70.3 ± 11.5 ng•g-1, ww).
  • From the 1980s to 2000, liver based concentrations of PFOS increased linearly in animals from both study sites. There was a noticeable increase in PFOS concentrations in 2011 (47.7 ± 5.7 ng•g-1 ww) relative to 2010 with concentrations declining to 36.2 ± 2.4 ng•g-1 in 2012 and 30.5 ± 4.2 ng•g-1 in 2013. PFOS concentrations in Sanikiluaq animals collected in 2013 were not statistically different to those from HI collected in the same year.

This project attempts to answer the question: are ‘new’ contaminants, some of which have only recently been detected in Arctic animals, increasing or decreasing in beluga whales from Hendrickson Island and Sanikiluaq?  These animals were selected for this study because (i) they represent an important part of the traditional diet of northern people and are ecologically relevant for temporal trend studies and, (ii) the sample archive at the Freshwater Institute has tissues from these animals collected over a large time window.  Findings from this study are important and provide information to international regulatory bodies.

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Temporal trends of mercury and halogenated organic compounds in Hendrickson Island and Sanikiluaq beluga

Project Leaders:

Gary A. Stern, Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS), University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Tel: (204) 474-9084; Email: Gary.stern@umanitoba.ca

Gregg Tomy, Department of Chemistry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Email: Gregg.Tomy@umanitoba.ca

Lisa Loseto, Freshwater Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Winnipeg
Tel: (204) 983-5135; Fax: 204-984-2403; Email: Lisa.Loseto@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Steve Ferguson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Freshwater Institute, Winnipeg
Email: Steve.Ferguson@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Project Team Members:

Alexis Burt and Emily Choy, University of Manitoba, Fisheries Joint Management Committee; Sonja Ostertag, Fisheries and Oceans

Duration: 2013- present

Northern Regions: Northwest Territories, Nunavut


Project Summary (2016-2017)

The objectives of this project are to maintain current data on contaminant levels in Arctic beluga and to continue to assess the temporal trends of bioaccumulating substances, such as heavy metals and halogenated organic compounds (HOCs). This information will contribute to investigating if, and how, contaminant levels in beluga, and hence exposure to Arctic people who traditionally consume them, are changing with time. Project activities will focus on beluga around Hendrickson Island (Northwest Territories) and Sanikiluaq (Nunavut). These results will also help to test the effectiveness of international controls and, in conjunction with projects such as ArcticNet and the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment (BREA), help to understand the potential effects of climate variation on these contaminant levels. Climate variation has been attributed to observed changes in atmospheric sea-level pressure, wind fields, sea-ice drift, ice cover, length of melt season, precipitation patterns, hydrology, ocean currents, and water mass distribution. It is almost certain that these primary changes have altered the carbon cycle, trophic relationships between species, and biological systems. However, the difficulty of observing these changes, paired with existing irregular and incomplete time series measurements, make it exceedingly challenging to discern what these changes have been. Since contaminants enter global systems and are transported through the air and water, the changes listed above will clearly alter contaminants pathways and ultimately the levels observed in the Arctic marine ecosystem.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract

Samples of liver, kidney, muscle and muktuk of beluga whales collected in 2015 were analyzed for total mercury and selenium. Levels of mercury remained similar to ranges established in previous years. Of the organs analyzed in this study, liver typically had the highest concentrations of mercury, followed by kidney, muscle and muktuk. For example, the mean concentration of total mercury in 27 liver samples of beluga from Hendrickson Island in 2015 was 26.41 ± 20.82 µg·g-1while that of muktuk from the same animals was 0.44 ± 0.22 µg·g-1. Data from these samples were added to the growing database on concentrations of these elements in organs of arctic marine mammals. The database now contains information on over 1377 arctic beluga from several locations over the period from 1977 to 2015. Mercury content varies among species, among individual animals, and among organs within an animal. This variation makes rigorous detection of differences among animals, places and times statistically difficult. Detection of differences among samples is further complicated by the fact that mercury accumulates with age so that older animals usually have higher levels than younger ones from the same location. Consequently comparison of mercury levels among different groups of beluga requires adjustment for differing ages, and as a result, accurate age data are essential. The additional samples obtained each year improve the chances of detecting differences if they are real and reduce the chances of reporting apparent differences if they are not real. Usually the chemical analyses are completed prior to the age determinations and so there is a lag in interpretation of the data.

Key messages

  • New data were obtained on total mercury in organs of beluga from Hendrickson Island, Sanikiluaq.
  • The mean level of mercury in 2015 liver samples from the HI animals was 26.41 ± 20.82 µg·g-1. The mean age of these same whales was 26.3 ± 7.6 years. Mercury in muscle was lower than that in liver with a mean concentration of 1.26 ± 0.80 µg·g-1.
  • In spite of the lower values in HI muscle, all of them still exceeded 0.5 µg·g-1, the concentration long used to regulate the sale of commercial fish in Canada.
  • Of the three organs analyzed in the HI animals, muktuk contained the lowest levels of total mercury with a mean 0.44 ± 0.22 µg·g-1. Thirty percent of the samples (8 of 27) exceeded 0.5 µg·g-1.
  • Unlike liver, total mercury in muscle and muktuk is equivalent to MeHg (i.e. THg = MeHg). MeHg is the form of mercury that bioaccumulates and is toxic.
  • The mean mercury concentration in SK liver samples was 7.72 ± 9.67 µg·g-1. Muscle levels were lower, with a mean of 0.60 ± 0.27 µg·g-1, and mercury levels in muktuk were even lower with a mean concentration of 0.18 ± 0.10 µg·g-1.

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract

Samples of liver, kidney, muscle and muktuk of beluga whales collected in 2014 were analyzed for total mercury and selenium. Levels of mercury remained similar to ranges established in previous years. Of the organs analyzed in this study, liver typically had the highest concentrations of mercury, followed by kidney, muscle and muktuk. For example, the mean concentration of total mercury in 29 liver samples of beluga from Hendrickson Island in 2012 was 27.3 ± 27.0 µg·g-1 while that of muktuk from the same animals was 0.59 ± 0.18 µg·g-1. Data from these samples were added to the growing database on concentrations of these elements in organs of arctic marine mammals. The database now contains information on over 1340 arctic beluga from several locations over the period from 1977 to 2015. Mercury content varies among species, among individual animals, and among organs within an animal.  This variation makes rigorous detection of differences among animals, places and times statistically difficult.  Detection of differences among samples is further complicated by the fact that mercury accumulates with age so that older animals usually have higher levels than younger ones from the same location. Consequently comparison of mercury levels among different groups of beluga requires adjustment for differing ages; accurate age data are essential. The additional samples obtained each year improve the chances of detecting differences if they are real and reduce the chances of reporting apparent differences if they are not real. Usually the chemical analyses are completed prior to the age determinations and so there is a lag in interpretation of the data.

Key messages

  • New data were obtained on total mercury in organs of beluga from Hendrickson Island, Sanikiluaq.
  • The mean level of mercury in 2014 liver samples from the HI animals was 21.28 ± 23.32  µg·g-1. The mean age of these same whales was 29.9 ± 8.1years. Mercury in muscle was lower than that in liver with a mean concentration of 2.04 ± 0.89 µg·g-1.
  • In spite of the lower values in HI muscle, all of them still exceeded 0.5 µg·g-1, the concentration long used to regulate the sale of commercial fish in Canada.
  • Of the 3 organs analyzed in the HI animals, muktuk contained the lowest levels of total mercury with a mean 0.63 ± 0.29 µg·g-1.  Sixty percent of the samples (12 of 20) exceeded 0.5 µg·g-1.
  • Unlike liver, total mercury in muscle and muktuk is equivalent to MeHg (i.e. THg = MeHg). MeHg is the form of mercury that bioaccumulates and is toxic.
  • The mean mercury concentration in SK liver samples was 18.93 ± 20.01 µg·g-1, Muscle levels were lower, with a mean of 1.18 ± 1.02 µg·g-1and mercury in muktuk were lower with still with a mean concentration of 0.58 ± 0.38 µg·g-1.

Synopsis (2013-14)

Abstract

Samples of liver, kidney, muscle and muktuk of beluga whales collected in 2013 were analyzed for total mercury and selenium. Levels of mercury remained similar to ranges established in previous years. Of the organs analyzed in this study, liver typically had the highest concentrations of mercury, followed by kidney, muscle and muktuk. For example, the mean concentration of total mercury in 29 liver samples of beluga from Hendrickson Island in 2012 was 27.3 ± 27.0 µg·g-1 while that of muktuk from the same animals was 0.59 ± 0.18 µg·g-1. Data from these samples were added to the growing database on concentrations of these elements in organs of arctic marine mammals. The database now contains information on over 1300 arctic beluga from several locations over the period from 1977 to 2012. Mercury content varies among species, among individual animals, and among organs within an animal. This variation makes rigorous detection of differences among animals, places and times statistically difficult. Detection of differences among samples is further complicated by the fact that mercury accumulates with age so that older animals usually have higher levels than younger ones from the same location. Consequently comparison of mercury levels among different groups of beluga requires adjustment for differing ages; accurate age data are essential. The additional samples obtained each year improve the chances of detecting differences if they are real and reduce the chances of reporting apparent differences if they are not real. Usually the chemical analyses are completed prior to the age determinations and so there is a lag in interpretation of the data.

Key Messages

  • New data were obtained on total mercury in organs of beluga from Hendrickson Island and Sanikiluaq.
  • The mean level of mercury in 2013 liver samples from the Hendrickson Islandanimals was 28.8 ± 22.9  µg·g-1. The mean age of these same whales was 27.7 ± 7.9 years. Mercury in muscle was lower than that in liver with a mean concentration of 1.54 ± 0.66 µg·g-1.
  • In spite of the lower values in Hendrickson Island beluga muscle, all of them still exceeded 0.5 µg·g-1, the concentration long used to regulate the sale of commercial fish in Canada.
  • Of the 3 organs analyzed in the Hendrickson Island animals, muktuk contained the lowest levels of total mercury with a mean 0.76 ± 0.40 µg·g-1. Twenty-three percent of the samples (7 of 30) exceeded 0.5 µg·g-1.
  • Unlike liver, total mercury in muscle and muktuk is equivalent to MeHg (i.e. THg = MeHg). MeHg is the form of mercury that bioaccumulates and is toxic.
  • The mean mercury concentration in Sanikiluaq liver samples was 3.26 ± 2.21 µg·g-1, Muscle levels were lower, with a mean of 0.47 ± 0.15 µg·g-1 and mercury in muktuk were lower with still with a mean concentration of 0.21 ± 0.11 µg·g-1.
  • The lower mercury concentrations in the 2013 animals tissues reflect their much younger ages.

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Profiling the Distribution of Total and Methylated Mercury in Canadian Arctic Seawater

Project Leader

Feiyue Wang, Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS), Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba

Tel: (204) 474-6250, Fax: (204) 272-1532

Email: wangf@ms.umanitoba.ca

Project Team

Gary Stern, Alex Hare, Kang Wang, and Breanne Reinfort, CEOS, Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba

Abstract

Mercury, especially its organic form methylmercury, is one of the primary contaminants of concern in the Arctic marine ecosystems. It is, however, not until recently have we started to appreciate the processes governing mercury distribution and speciation in Arctic seawater. Of particular importance is the recent discovery of sub-surface methylmercury production, which could be a major source of methylmercury to the Arctic ecosystems and ultimately to humans. Building upon our recent work on total and methylated mercury distribution in the Beaufort Sea, this three-year project aims to map the present-day “baseline” vertical concentration profiles of total and methylated mercury in seawater from various regions of the Canadian Arctic Ocean, and to develop a practical strategy for future long-term monitoring of total and methylated mercury in the Canadian Arctic seawater. In Year 1, we have critically reviewed and compiled existing data on vertical distribution profiles of total and methylated mercury in seawater from the Canadian Arctic Ocean, with the objective of developing a practical monitoring strategy.

Key Messages

  • High-resolution distribution profiles of methylated mercury in the Beaufort Sea suggest in situ production of methylated mercury in the sub-surface of the water column.
  • There is a genuine lack of high quality data on seawater methylmercury in other regions of the Canadian Arctic Ocean.
  • It remains unknown to what extent this sub-surface source of methylmercury contributes to methylmercury burdens in the Arctic marine ecosystem.
  • Long-term monitoring of total and methylated mercury in the Canadian Arctic Ocean, in combination with the existing and ongoing air and biological monitoring, is needed to allow for the study of the sources, processes, and sinks of mercury in the Arctic Ocean, and for the modeling and projection of how Arctic mercury will respond to changes in mercury emission under a changing climate.

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Temporal Trends of Mercury and Halogenated Organic Compounds in Hendrickson Island, Sanikiluaq and Pangnirtung Beluga

Project leader(s):

·         Gary A. Stern, University of Manitoba

·         Lisa Loseto, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Plain language summary

The objectives of this project are to maintain current data on contaminant levels in Arctic beluga and to continue to assess the temporal trends of bioaccumulating substances such as heavy metals and halogenated organic compounds (HOCs).This will allow us to determine whether contaminant levels in the beluga, and hence exposure to Arctic people who traditionally consume them, are changing with time. These results will also help to test the effectiveness of international controls and, in conjunction with projects such as ArcticNet and BREA to understand the effects that climate variation may have on these contaminant levels. Climate variation has been attributed to observed changes to atmospheric sea-level pressure, wind fields, sea-ice drift, ice cover, length of melt season, precipitation patterns, hydrology and ocean currents and water mass distribution. It is almost certain that these primary changes have altered the carbon cycle, trophic relationships between species, and biological systems but the difficulty of observing these changes together with existing irregular, incomplete time series measurements makes it exceedingly difficult to discern what these changes have been. Because contaminants enter global systems and transport through the air and water, the changes listed above will clearly alter contaminants pathways and ultimately the levels observed in the Arctic marine ecosystem.

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Community Based Seawater Monitoring for Organic Contaminants and Mercury in the Canadian Arctic

Project Leaders:

Derek Muir, Amila De Silva, Jane Kirk and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Burlington, ON

Rainer Lohmann, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island

Project Team:  

Peter Amarualik Sr, Resolute, NU; Xiaowa Wang, Christine Spencer and Camila Teixeira, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington; Mohammed Khairy, and Dave Adelman, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island; Rodd Laing, Nunatsiavut Government; Adam Morris, University of Guelph, Guelph; Liisa Jantunen, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto; Stephen Insley, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, Whitehorse; Jean-Sebastien Moore, Laval University, Québec

Duration: 2014- present

Northern Regions:Nunavut, Labrador


Project Summary (2016-2017)

There is lack of data on contaminant levels and time trends in ocean waters. Since May 2014, this study has been addressing this knowledge gap by building on previous work in Barrow Strait near Resolute, Nunavut (NU), coordinating the collection of seawater samples using passive samplers (i.e. thin plastic films) deployed for 5 to 6 week periods. In addition, collection of smaller samples (i.e. 1L) at various depths using Niskin samplers was conducted at Barrow Strait and in Scott Fiord near Clyde River (NU). Collection in Nain, Nunatsiavut, was scheduled for January-March 2016 when solid ice had formed. Analysis of stain resistant (perfluorinated) chemicals has been completed and shows that perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) has declined to non-detectable levels since the mid-2000s. Mercury concentrations at Barrow Strait taken in 2014/15 remain unchanged compared to 10 years earlier (i.e. 2004/05).  For 2016/17, sampling will be repeated throughout May and August in Barrow Strait and the study will extend to Sachs Harbour (Inuvialuit Settlement Region), Cambridge Bay (NU), and Anaktalak Fiord (Nunatsiavut) with help from local communities and scientists. Results for other sites will allow for comparison and the ability to test the representativeness of Barrow Strait as a sampling site. Ultimately the goal is to extend the existing information on contaminants in seawater at Resolute so that a time series can be developed.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract:

This proposal addresses a knowledge gap that has been identified under the NCP “Blueprint”, related to the lack of data on levels and time trends of contaminants in ocean waters. The project started in May 2014 and built on previous work in Barrow Strait near Resolute in 2011 and 2012. Seawater samples were successfully collected in May-June and in August-September 2015 using (1) passive samplers (thin plastic films) deployed for five to six week periods. Collection of smaller (1L) samples a various depths using Niskin samplers was also successful at Barrow Strait and in Scott Fiord near Clyde River. Analysis of stain resistant (perfluorinated) chemicals has been completed and shows that PFOS has declined to non-detectable levels since the mid-2000s. Mercury concentrations at Barrow Strait (2014-2015) remain unchanged compared to 10 years earlier (2004-05). Brominated flame retardants were also detectable at very low (picogram per liter) concentrations on the passive samplers. Ultimately our goal is to extend the existing information on contaminants in seawater at Resolute so that a time series would be developed. Results for other sites would allow comparison to test the representativeness of Barrow Strait as a sampling site.

Key messages:

  • Concentrations of selected POPs and mercury were measured in seawater samples from Barrow Strait near Resolute Bay NU
  • Very low concentrations of brominated flame retardants were found in seawater using passive samplers (plastic films)
  • Phosphorus based flame retardants were detected in seawater for the first time at Resolute
  • Concentrations of PFOS are showing a declining trend based on comparisons with sampling in 2005-2008 at the same location

Synopsis (2014-2015)

Abstract:

The concentrations of contaminants in seawater influence what is detected in marine mammals and seabirds and levels and time trends of the contaminants in the ocean has been identified as a knowledge gap by the NCP. The project started in May 2014 and built on previous work in Barrow Strait near Resolute in 2011 and 2012. Seawater samples were successfully collected in May-June 2014 using passive samplers (thin plastic films) deployed for 5 weeks under the ice, large volume (~300L) samples collected by pumping seawater through resin columns, and collection of smaller (1L) samples a various depths using Niskin samplers. Collection in August was hampered by ice conditions so that only 1L samples were collected. Samples were analysed for POPs including brominated flame retardants (BFRs), perfluorinated substances (eg PFOS) and mercury. Results for perfluorinated chemicals show that concentrations of PFOS have declined since the mid-2000s. Concentrations of BFRs were very low (picograms per liter). Passive samplers had10-20x lower BFRs than in large volume samples. Longer deployment times for the passive samplers are planned for 2015-16. Repeated sampling at the same location and time of year will help develop temporal trend information for contaminants seawater.

Key messages:

  • Concentrations of selected POPs and mercury were measured in seawater samples from Barrow Strait near Resolute Bay NU
  • Very low concentrations of flame retardants were found in seawater using both passive samplers (plastic films) and large volume samples
  • Concentrations of PFOS are showing a declining trend based on comparisons with sampling in 2005-2008 at the same location

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Spatial Variation in Canadian Arctic Prey Fish Communities and Contaminant Levels and Consequences for Diets and Contaminant Levels in Ringed Seals

Project Leader(s):

Aaron Fisk, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON
Tel: (519) 253-3000 ext. 4740; Email: afisk@uwindsor.ca

Melissa McKinney, University of Connecticut, Storrs CT
Tel: (860) 486-6885; Email: melissa.mckinney@uconn.edu

 

Project Team:

Resolute Bay Hunters and Trappers; Clyde River Hunters and Trappers; Arviat Hunters and Trappers; Janelle Kennedy and Devin Imrie, GN-Department of Environment; Derek Muir, Environment Canada; Gregg Tomy, University of Manitoba; Steve Ferguson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Dave Yurkowski, Steve Kessel, Nigel Hussey, Amanda Barkley, Anna Hussey, University of Windsor; Sara Pedro, University of Connecticut

 

Abstract:

Forage fish are the main prey of arctic marine mammals, seabirds and larger marine fish, and are thus also their main source of exposure to mercury (Hg) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Over the last twenty years, forage fish communities have changed in the Arctic. At lower latitudes of the eastern Canadian Arctic, communities have shifted from arctic-type to subarctic-type forage fish, although this change has not yet occurred to a large extent in the high Arctic. We collaborated with Hunters and Trappers Associations in Arviat (low Arctic), Clyde River (mid-Arctic) and Resolute Bay (high Arctic), NU to collect arctic marine forage fish (arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) and sculpin (Cottoidae spp.)) and invertebrates, as well as subarctic-type forage fish (capelin (Mallotus villosus) and sandlance (Ammodytidae spp.)) from 2012-2014. We measured tissue Hg and POP levels to assess the potential consequences of forage fish changes on predator contaminant exposures. Levels of Hg were similar across regions when the same species were compared, but levels differed among species within a given region. Nitrogen and carbon stable isotope ratios suggested that fish feeding at higher trophic positions and using benthic foraging strategies (sculpin, northern shrimp) had higher Hg levels than fish feeding at lower trophic positions and using pelagic or sympagic foraging strategies (arctic cod, capelin, sandlance). Hg concentrations in subarctic fish (sandlance and especially capelin) were lower than in arctic fish (arctic cod and especially sculpin), suggesting that increased consumption of subarctic forage fish relative to arctic forage fish may result in lower mercury exposures for arctic marine predators (e.g., ringed seal). Detailed analysis of these relationships for methylmercury, PCBs, legacy and current-use organochlorine pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and emerging brominated flame retardants (BFRs) is underway.

 

Key messages:

·         Small arctic marine fish and invertebrates, as well as more recently observed subarctic marine fish, were collected in low Arctic (Arviat, NU), mid-Arctic (Clyde River, NU) and high Arctic (Resolute Bay, NU) communities in 2012-2014.

·         Hg concentrations were similar across regions when the same species were compared, but levels differed among species within a given region.

·         Results of stable isotopes analysis suggested that fish that feed at a higher position in the food web and near shore or near the bottom (sculpin, northern shrimp) generally had higher Hg levels than fish that feed lower in the food web and in open water or under ice areas (arctic cod, capelin, sandlance).

·         Hg concentrations in subarctic fish (sandlance and capelin) were lower than in arctic fish (arctic cod and sculpin), suggesting that increased consumption of subarctic fish may result in lower mercury exposures for marine mammals and seabirds.

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Metal Loading and Retention in Arctic Tundra Lakes During Spring Runoff

Project Leaders         

Murray Richardson, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

Carleton University, Ottawa, Tel: (613) 520-2600 ext. 2574, Fax: (613) 520-4301 

Email: murray_richardson@carleton.ca

Jamal Shirley, Manager, Research Design, Nunavut Research Institute, Nunavut Arctic College

Iqaluit, Nunavut, Tel: (867) 979-7290, Fax: 867-979-7109, Email: Jamal.Shirley@arcticcollege.ca                                      

Project Team

John Chételat, Environment Canada; Keegan Smith, Carleton University; Jessica Peters, Nunavut Research Institute; Jason Carpenter, Nunavut Arctic College; Marc Amyot, Université de Montréal

Abstract

Spring snowmelt is the most important hydrologic event of the year in Arctic landscapes.    During this relatively short period in spring, fluxes of water and waterborne contaminants such as mercury (Hg) and other trace metals to surface waters can exceed those occurring during the remainder of the year.    In this two year study, intensive monitoring of snow and surface water hydrology and metal geochemistry are being conducted at several lakes near Iqaluit, NU.  The overarching goal is to produce watershed-scale hydrologic and metal mass balances to quantify the contribution of snowpack metal burdens to Arctic lakes during the annual spring freshet.  Spatially extensive measurements of snow depth, density, and metal concentrations prior to the melt period are being conducted prior to the onset of melt, followed by frequent sampling of lake inflows and outflows.  Because of logistical difficulties associated with streamflow gauging under ice during the melt period, the study design employs isotopic and hydrochemical end-member mixing using snow, stream, lake ice and lake water sampling to determine the water and metal mass balances. 

All fieldwork is being conducted in partnership with Nunavut Research Institute (NRI) and Nunavut Arctic College (NAC), and several current or recently graduated NAC Environmental Technology Program (ETP) students have received field training in snow and river hydrology, limnology and aquatic geochemistry.  An important objective of the project is to build the NRI’s capacity to plan, coordinate, and manage, field studies of aquatic contaminants cycling and snowmelt hydrology. 

Preliminary results from the 2014 field season reveal relatively high concentrations of Hg in the snowpack prior to the melt period and limited mixing of the snowmelt runoff with lake water due preferential flow directly beneath the lake ice.  Our 2014 results also show that snowmelt runoff chemistry is strongly augmented by another source of water prior to entering lakes, most likely groundwater or water within the developing active layer.   These findings contribute to our scientific understanding of trace metal dynamics in Arctic lakes and watersheds during the spring freshet and the mechanisms by which snowpack accumulation and melt serves to couple atmospheric sources of contaminants to aquatic environments. 

Key Messages

·         Concentrations of total mercury (THg), methyl-mercury (MeHg) and other trace metals in including lead (Pb) in snowmelt water leaving the snowpack were high, representing a potentially important source of metal input to catchments and lakes near Iqaluit, NU;

·         Although snowmelt water was high in metals including THg, MeHg and Pb, it was low in Dissoved Organic Carbon (DOC), whereas streamflow concentrations of both metals and DOC after flowing overland and through shallow soils of the catchment; Streamflow water quality during the spring melt period therefore represents a mixture of snowmelt and terrestrial water sources;

·         Water from inflowing streams, elevated in metals and DOC,  did not mix strongly with lake water, and lake outflow chemistry largely tracked inflow chemistry throughout the entire melt period which is consistent with several previous studies that show that snowmelt runoff largely bypasses Arctic lakes in a thin layer below the ice surface

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Winter Atmospheric Loadings and Springtime Runoff of Mercury and Perfluorinated Chemicals to a Pristine High Arctic Watershed in Quttinirpaaq National Park, Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut

Project Leaders:

Vincent L. St.Louis; Professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

Tel: (780) 492-9386; E-mail: vince.stlouis@ualberta.ca

Derek M. Muir; Environment Canada, Burlington, Ontario 

Tel: (905) 319-6921; E-mail: derek.muir@ec.gc.ca

Project Team:

Dr. Igor Lehnherr, University of Waterloo; Kyra St-Pierre, University of Alberta; Lisa Szostek, University of Victoria; Emma Hansen, Parks Canada; two seasonal employees from northern communities

Abstract:

The high Arctic continues to receive a wide range of contaminants released by human activities in more southerly latitudes and industrialized nations around the world.  Thankfully, due to emission regulations and bans in their usage, concentrations of certain legacy contaminants have been declining in the high Arctic.  However, a number of contaminants such as mercury (Hg), as well as new, emerging and yet unregulated persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as certain poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), continue to be of priority concerns.  Furthermore, it now appears that climate change is also influencing the long-range transport, fate and bioaccumulation of contaminants like Hg and POPs in the Arctic.  We are quantifying contaminant loadings in snowpacks and meltwater, water quality and climate change impacts in the pristine Lake Hazen watershed, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.  From a socio-economic perspective, understanding present-day contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts is important for predicting how the abundances and quality of certain organisms used as Inuit traditional foods may be altered by future human activities.  We found high concentrations of total mercury (THg; all forms of Hg in a sample), methylmercury (MeHg; the toxic and bioaccumulating form of Hg) and PFASs in snowpacks.  Most of the THg and MeHg was bound to particles in the snow.  Concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs in snowmelt runoff initially resembled those found in certain snowpacks, but declined over time as particles settled out.  Snow meltwater inputs to Lake Hazen from the lake surface and the surrounding landscape more than doubled concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs in surface waters.  Concentrations of MeHg increased slightly in zooplankton following snowmelt. This occurred when there was a spring pulse of biological activity under the lake ice.

 

Key messages:

·         Concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs were much higher in "dirty" snowpacks than in snowpacks with much fewer particles. Approximately 95% of the THg and 80% of the MeHg was bound to particles.

·         Concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs in snowmelt runoff from the landscape initially resembled concentrations in the light snowpack on the surface of Lake Hazen, but declined to much lower concentrations by early June, suggesting that most of the particle-bound contaminants coming off the landscape settled out quickly and were not delivered to Lake Hazen

·         Snow meltwater inputs to Lake Hazen from the lake surface and the surrounding landscape more than doubled concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs in surface waters. This occurred when there was a spring pulse of biological activity under the lake ice.

·         Concentrations of MeHg in zooplankton increased slightly after snowmelt inputs. Results for PFASs in zooplankton are pending.

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Heavy Metal and Radionuclide Contaminants in Caribou and Moose

Project Leader(s):    

Brett Elkin

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Government of the Northwest Territories

Phone: (867) 920-8067 Fax: (867) 873-0293

Email: brett_elkin@gov.nt.ca

Project Team:

 

Derek Muir, Environment Canada, Burlington, ON

Xiaowa Wang, Environment Canada, Burlington, ON

Bruno Croft, GNWT Environment & Natural Resources, Yellowknife, NT

Allicia Kelly, GNWT Environment & Natural Resources, Fort Smith, NT

Heather Sayine-Crawford, NWT Environment & Natural Resources, Norman Wells, NT

Abstract:

Caribou and moose are keystone species in northern Canada, and are important to the cultural, social, spiritual and economic well-being of people and communities in the Northwest Territories.  Both caribou and moose are important traditional food species, and make up a significant part of the diet in northern communities.  Some concerns have been raised by communities who harvest these species about exposure to naturally occurring and anthropogenic sources of contaminants, both local and long range atmospheric transport.  While metals are generally found at low levels in terrestrial ecosystems, elevated levels of some metals including cadmium have been found in the kidneys of caribou and moose in some areas.  Levels in muscle are very low.   Periodic monitoring of both caribou and moose is important to track levels over time, and maintain public confidence in caribou and moose as a healthy and nutritious source of food. This program collected samples through existing regional hunter-based monitoring programs in several areas in the NWT.  Samples were collected from barren-ground caribou (Bluenose-East and Beverly herds), northern mountain caribou (Mackenzie Mountains), and moose (Sahtu and South Slave regions). Liver and kidney samples were tested for 34 different metals and elements, and some samples were also tested for radionuclides and polycyclic aromatic compounds.  Data is current being analysed, and an in-depth reporting will be available later in 2015.

Key messages:

  • Caribou and moose are keystone species in northern Canada, and are very important to the cultural, social, spiritual and economic well-being of many communities in the Northwest Territories.
  • Previous monitoring of barren-ground caribou has found relatively low levels of most metals and other elements.
  • Elevated levels of cadmium have been found in the kidneys of moose and caribou in some areas, but are generally below levels of concern.
  • Periodic monitoring of contaminants in caribou and moose is important to track levels over time, and provide information to the public and decision makers.
  • Caribou and moose remain a healthy and nutritious source of food for northern communities.

 

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Investigation of the Toxic Effects of Mercury in Landlocked Arctic Char

Project Leaders:

Niladri (Nil) Basu, Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Environmental Health Sciences, Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue
Tel: (514) 398-8642; Email: niladri.basu@mcgill.ca

Paul Drevnick, Assistant Research Scientist, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Email: drevnick@umich.edu

Project Team:

Benjamin Barst, McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue; Derek Muir, Aquatic Contaminants Research Division of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON

Debbie Iqaluk, Resolute Bay, NU; Günter Köck, Austrian Academy of Sciences and University of Innsbruck, Austria

Duration: 2015- present

Northern Regions: Cornwallis Island


Project Summary (2016-2017)

In the Canadian Arctic, mercury (Hg) concentrations in the tissues of landlocked Arctic char are elevated and approximately 30% of sampled populations exceed toxicity thresholds. Since 2011, tissues from landlocked Arctic char in Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) focal ecosystem lakes on Cornwallis Island, Nunavut, have been used to determine whether wild populations are indeed experiencing Hg toxicity. Results indicate possible subtle effects on reproduction and more pronounced effects on liver. Upcoming project activities will involve collection of char tissues from NCP focal lakes during the summers of 2016 and 2017. This coming year will also include initiating capstone studies to fill data gaps and synthesizing overall effort with an adverse outcome pathway (AOP) framework. Non-lethal sampling techniques that could be used to determine Hg exposure and adverse effects in fish populations not selected for routine monitoring will also be validated. This work is novel in that it goes beyond documenting Hg concentrations in fish and will provide critical knowledge concerning the status of fish health and, as such, relevant information impacting the health of northern Aboriginal populations.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract:

In northern Canada and especially Nunavut, mercury (Hg) concentrations can be high in predatory fish, including landlocked arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). An analysis of data from landlocked char in northern Canada and Greenland indicates that 30% of the populations surveyed exceed toxicity thresholds for Hg in fish. In 2015, we collected landlocked char from “NCP focal ecosystem” lakes on Cornwallis Island to build upon our previously funded NCP work aimed at determining if landlocked Arctic char are indeed experiencing toxicity. Collections were conducted in cooperation with the char “core” monitoring project led by Derek Muir. The lakes sampled (Small, North, Amituk) span a gradient of Hg contamination, allowing for the comparison of biological endpoints in char with low Hg concentrations to char with high Hg concentrations. Preliminary results suggest that increasing Hg exposure leads to higher levels of lipid peroxidation (measured as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances or TBARS) and lower activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the livers of Arctic char. No such correlation was found for either lipid peroxidation or SOD in Arctic char brains, however. Determinations of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-PX) activities in livers and brains are ongoing, and may explain the observed differences, despite the similar Hg concentrations in the tissues. Our work is novel in that it goes beyond documenting Hg concentrations in fish and will provide critical knowledge concerning the status of fish health.

Key messages:

  • We sampled landlocked arctic char from “NCP focal ecosystem” lakes (Small, North, Amituk) near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, to determine effects of mercury on the char.
  • Mercury concentrations in char from all of the lakes, except Small Lake, exceed values known from laboratory studies to cause effects on fish.
  • Preliminary results suggest that increasing Hg exposure leads to higher levels of lipid peroxidation (measured as TBARS) and lower activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the livers of Arctic char, but not in the brains.

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Metabolomic consequences of elevated PCB exposure in ringed seals (Pusa hispida) in Labrador: an expanded toxicological repertoire to characterize health impacts

Project Leaders:

Tanya M. Brown, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL
Tel: (709) 864-7417; Fax: (709) 864-3119; E-mail: tanya.brown@mun.ca

John R. Cosgrove, AXYS Analytical Services Ltd, Sidney, BC
Tel: (250) 655-5830; E-mail: jcosgrove@axys.com

Project Team :

Bharat Chandramouli and Russell Chedgy, AXYS Analytical Services Ltd, Sidney, BC; Ken J. Reimer, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, ON; Peter S. Ross, Director, , Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, Vancouver, BC; Aaron T. Fisk, Associate Professor, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor

Duration: 2016-present 

Northern Regions: Labrador


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Operations at a military radar station beginning in the late 1950s in Saglek Bay, Labrador, led to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in approximately 60% of ringed seals in the region. A select suite of genes measured in ringed seals from Labrador revealed results suggesting that some adverse health effects have been caused by this local PCB source. The purpose of the work is to carry out a more comprehensive study on biochemical profiles of the ringed seals to gain insight into the causes and implications of molecular disruption. This will be achieved by developing and applying a novel metabolomic profiling approach, which could serve as a sensitive and early detection indicator for health effects in seals. This unique case, with an extensive background and a local PCB ‘hotspot’ on the Labrador coast, provides an invaluable opportunity to examine the effects of a relatively unweathered commercial grade PCB mixture on the health of a marine mammal population. The results will be delivered to scientific and community stakeholders through a combination of publications and local meetings. This project will deepen our understanding of PCB-related health effects in marine mammals, and provide additional insight into the health of the Labrador ringed seal population and those community members who rely on this species as an important source of country food.

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Climate change, contaminants, ecotoxicology: interactions in Arctic seabirds at their southern range limits

Project Leaders

Kyle Elliott, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC.
Tel: (514) 398-7907; Fax: (613) 398-7990; E-mail: kyle.elliott@mcgill.ca

Kim Fernie, Ecotoxicology & Wildlife Health, Science & Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON
Tel: (905)-336-4843; E-mail: kim.fernie@canada.ca 

Project Team

B. Braune, and R. Letcher, Environment & Climate Change Canada/S&T, Ottawa, ON;  J. Head ,Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, QC

Duration:2016- present

Northern Regions: Nunavut


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Effects of contaminants on Arctic wildlife are occurring against a backdrop of rapid climate change. Contaminants can cause endocrine disruption and, as a result, potentially limit the ability of wildlife to respond to impacts of climate change. This project will examine how the ability of seabirds to respond to changing ice conditions is impacted by a suite of selected legacy contaminants. Throughout July and August 2016, thick-billed murres will be studied at their southern range limit (i.e. Coats Island, Nunavut) where climate change is strongly impacting seabird health. When ice breaks up earlier, adults expend more energy to gain less food, and young murres grow more slowly. Hormone systems are likely involved in this phenomenon as high levels of stress hormones (e.g. corticosterone), and potentially thermoregulatory hormones (e.g. thyroid hormones), force individuals to increase energy expenditure, fly farther, and find alternative prey sources. It is expected that high levels of contamination disrupt hormone regulation, thereby disturbing the relationship between hormones and energy expenditure in seabirds. Specifically, because high energy expenditure is necessary to access food when ice is far away and low energy expenditure occurs when ice is near, it is anticipated that chemical disruption of that relationship may explain why some individuals appear unable to alter their foraging behavior in response to changing ice conditions. The results of this study may help Northerners understand how contaminants and climate change interact to impact wildlife.

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Temporal trends and spatial variations in mercury in sea-run Arctic char from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

Project leader

Marlene S. Evans, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Saskatoon, SK
Tel: 306-975-5310; Fax: 306-975-5143; E-mail: marlene.evans@ec.gc.ca

Derek Muir, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON
Tel: 905-319-6921; Fax: 905-336-6430; E-mail: derek.muir@ec.gc.ca.

Project team

Ekaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) Hunters & Trappers Organization, Cambridge Bay, NU; Les Harris, Arctic Aquatic Research Division, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Winnipeg, MB; Donald S. McLennan, Canadian High Arctic Research Station, Hull, QC; Richard Dewy, Ocean Networks Canada, University of Victoria, BC; Jonathan Keating, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Saskatoon, SK; Xiaowa Wang, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington, ON

Project duration: 2016-present

Northern regions in this study: Cambridge Bay

**A previous project in Cambridge Bay focused on mercury and POPs in sea-run Arctic char. This project only focusses on mercury in sea-run Arctic Char, because POP levels were not high enough to warrant future study.


Project Summary (2016-2017)

This study will continue to investigate trends in mercury concentrations and metals in sea-run Arctic char from the domestic fishery at Ekaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), Nunavut. While mercury concentrations are currently low, continuous investigation of these char will determine how changes in global mercury emissions and climate affect concentrations. As in previous years of this study, 20 char will be harvested from the sea by local fishermen and provided to the research team for analysis. These collections will be coordinated with the Hunters and Trappers Organization. In addition, the project team will continue to collaborate with other researchers who are investigating features of char biology and their environment. Collaborators include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who is conducting stock assessments on the major river/lake systems supporting the commercial fishery, and the Canadian High Arctic Research Station who is developing a monitoring program on Grenier Lake that will include investigation of mercury concentrations in lake trout and char. Project activities will also include a visit to Ekaluktutiak in the summer to provide an update on study results, explore opportunities for additional study of char, and conduct some field sampling.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract

Sea-run char form the basis of an important commercial fishery operating out of Ekaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) in addition to being essential in traditional diets.  Because of the commercial fishery, mercury concentrations were determined from the late 1970s to early 1990s in char runs at several rivers on southern Victoria Island and the mainland south of Queen Maud Gulf.  Mercury concentrations were and remain exceedingly low in these char.  Our study is now focussing on assessing trends in char mercury concentrations.  Of particular importance is the influence of variations in climate (especially temperature) and mercury emissions on char mercury concentrations.  In contrast to our studies in the Northwest Territories where mercury concentrations are increasing in lake trout, mercury concentrations appear to be decreasing in sea-run char at Cambridge Bay with similar declines being observed in landlocked char at Resolute.  These declines may be related to warming trends and/or decreasing mercury inputs.  In addition, mercury concentrations tend to be lower in fish with higher condition factors (more weight for their length).  Marlene visited Ekaluktutiak in August 2015 to discuss the char study and the Nunavut News/North published an article about this visit.   Lake trout and char were provided by Ekaluktutiak fishermen from Grenier Lake for mercury analyses.  In addition, Les Harris provided fillet from char caught from the Thirty-Mile/Halovik (2010-2015) and Lauchlan (2010-2014) fisheries west of Cambridge Bay and the Jayko (2010-2015) fishery east of Cambridge Bay.  These collections are allowing us to better investigate differences and trends in mercury concentrations in char between river systems and their drivers. 

Key messages

  • Mercury concentrations are very low in sea-run char at Cambridge Bay.
  • Mercury concentrations are very low in char from the various commercial fishery harvest areas.
  • Mercury concentrations in sea-run char in Cambridge Bay are exhibiting a weak trend of decrease
  • Mercury concentrations were higher in lake trout than in char from Grenier Lake. 

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Assessing Persistent Organic Pollutants in Canadian Arctic Air and Water as an Entry Point into the Arctic Food Chain

Project Leader:

Liisa M. Jantunen, Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Egbert, ON
Tel: (705) 458-3318; Fax: (705) 458-3301; Email: liisa.jantunen@canada.ca

Project Team:

Mahiba Shoeib, Cassandra Rauert, Hayley Hung, Fiona Wong, Organic Analysis Laboratory (OAL), Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, ON; Gary Stern, Monica Pucko, and Alexis Burt, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB; Brendan Hickie, and Chris Metcalfe, Trent University, Peterborough, ON; Jason Carpenter and a Northern student, Nunavut Arctic College, Iqaluit, NT; Miriam Diamond, Jimmy Truong, Joseph Oheme, University of Toronto, ON

Project Duration: 2013- present


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Contamination of the Canadian Arctic ecosystem with man-made chemicals in the air and water has been well documented, but temporal and geographic trends are not well established, especially for new and emerging compounds of concern. The four types of chemicals this project will study are pesticides, flame retardants, fluorine-containing compounds, and fossil fuel-related compounds. Previous project activities included developing pesticide trends in air and water over time at different locations in the Canadian Archipelago. Work on these trends will be continued while expanding the project scope to also develop trends for the flame retardants, fluorinated compounds, and fossil fuel-related compounds. Generally the trends show that chemicals that have been banned are declining in air and water, while chemicals that are still being used are remaining constant or increasing. Since 2007, the project team has collaborated with ArcticNet to collect air, water, and zooplankton samples in the Canadian Archipelago and this research activity will continue again during Summer 2016. In addition, a Northern student from Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit has been recruited to help with sampling from the Amundsen Arctic research vessel. This monitoring is key to evaluate the effectiveness of national and international regulations.


Synopsis (2015-16)

Abstract:

Since 2007, we have collected yearly samples in the Canadian Archipelago from on board the CCGS Amundsen as a part of ArcticNet.  These samples include air, water, sediment and zooplankton.  This project targets persistent organic pollutants and new and emerging compounds of concern, including pesticides, flame retardants, plasticizers, perfluorinated compounds and fossil fuel related compounds. Some of these compounds have been banned by national and international organizations, others are under consideration.  It is important to continue to monitor compounds after they have been banned to observe the effectiveness of regulations. It is also equally important to screen and monitor for suspected new compounds that could pose a threat to the arctic.  We have also started a water monitoring network utilizing passive water samplers in the archipelago attached to moorings and buoys and is being expanded to cover an east to west transect in the Canadian Arctic. This consistent sampling in the archipelago has enables us to develop trends for pesticides in air and water and some flame retardants and plasticizers in air. Our general conclusions are compounds currently being used are remaining constant or increasing in concentration where compounds that have been banned are decreasing in arctic air and water. International regulations have been effective at decreasing concentrations of banned chemicals in the arctic but replacement compounds that we have little knowledge of are now being found in the arctic environment.

Key messages:

  • Flame retardants that have replaced the regulated or banned flame retardants are being found in arctic air and water at levels that exceed the banned compounds by orders of magnitude.
  • Trends of organophosphate flame retardants and plasticizers in Canadian arctic air have remained constant over the past seven years, with one exception.
  • Arctic communities are local point sources for some organophosphate flame retardants and plasticizers.
  • Rivers deliver organophosphate flame retardants and plasticizers to the Canadian Arctic.

Synopsis (2014-15)

Abstract:

The Arctic has been contaminated by legacy organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and currently used pesticides (CUPs) through atmospheric transport and oceanic currents. From research expeditions conducted between 1993-2013, time trends and air-water exchange of OCPs and CUPs were determined. Compounds determined in both air and water were trans- and cis-chlordanes (TC, CC), trans- and cis-nonachlors (TN, CN), heptachlor exo-epoxide, dieldrin, toxaphene, dacthal, endosulfans and metabolite endosulfan sulfate, chlorothalonil, chlorpyrifos and trifluralin.  Pentachloronitrobenzene (quintozene) and its soil metabolite pentachlorothianisole were also found in air. Concentrations of most OCPs declined in surface water, whereas some CUPs increased (endosulfan-I, chlorothalonil and trifluralin) or showed no significant change (chlorpyrifos and dacthal), while most compounds declined in air. Chlordane compound fractions TC/(TC+CC) and TC/(TC+CC+TN) decreased in water and air, while CC/(TC+CC+TN) and TN/(TC+CC+TN) increased, suggesting selective removal of more labile TC over time and/or a shift in chlordane sources. Water/air fugacity ratios indicated net volatilization (FR >1.0) or near equilibrium (FR not significantly different from 1.0) for most OCPs, but net deposition (FR <1.0) for toxaphene. Net deposition was shown for endosulfan-I on all expeditions, while the net exchange direction of other CUPs varied. Understanding the processes and current state of air-surface exchange helps to interpret environmental exposure, evaluate the effectiveness of International Protocols and provides insights for the environmental fate of new and emerging chemicals.  

Key messages:

  • Concentrations of pesticides that are no longer used, declined in arctic surface water between 1993-2013.  This includes compounds such as hexachlorocyclohexanes, chlordanes, heptachlor exo-epoxide , dieldrin and toxaphene.
  • In surface waters between 1999-2013 in the Canadian archipelago, some pesticides that are currently being used increased including endosulfans, chlorothalonil and trifluralin while some showed no significant change, this include chlorpyrifos and dacthal.
  • Most banned organochlorine pesticides declined in air between 1993-2013.
  • Most current use pesticides declined in air between 1999-2013.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

Air and water samples were collected in the Canadian Archipelago during September 2013 as a part of ArcticNet to determine occurrence and levels of persistent organic pollutants. This includes banned organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), current use pesticides (CUPs) and flame retardants (specifically the organophosphate flame retardants [OPFRs]). Temporal trends were assessed for these compounds since levels of OCPs in air and water in the Canadian Archipelago have been measured by our group starting in 1992, CUPs since 1999 and air samples for OPFRs were taken from the archive back to 2007. Levels of OCPs in air and water continue to decline and are approaching detection limits; this trend is also being seen at other Arctic air monitoring sites. In general, CUPs have remained constant in air and water, except dacthal, which is decreasing. Dicofol was also screened and detected in the air and water samples; this is an important compound because it is being reviewed by the Stockholm Convention on POPs but reported data in the arctic environment is lacking. These measurements of OPFRs in air are the first for the Canadian Arctic and the OPFRs measurements in water are the first reported values in the entire Arctic. OPFRs concentrations are very high compared to the other compounds sought and are orders of magnitude higher than the brominated flame retardants. OPFRs in Arctic air are quite varied so spatial and temporal trends were not apparent but lower concentrations were observed in air samples taken at Alert compared to the central and southern archipelago.

Key messages

  • High levels of organophosphate flame retardants and plasticizers (OPFRs) were found in Canadian archipelago air, water and zooplankton.
  • These are the first reports of organophosphate flame retardants in Arctic water and Canadian Arctic air.
  • The levels of OPFRs in air, water and zooplankton are magnitudes higher than brominated flame retardants including the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
  • Levels of banned organochlorine pesticides in air and water continue to decline.
  • Levels of the in-use pesticides determined remain constant except dacthal, which is declining.

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Plastics as a vector of contaminants in Arctic seabirds

Project leader:

Mark Mallory, Canada Research Chair, Coastal Wetland Ecosystems, Biology Department, Acadia University, Wolfville
Tel: (902) 585-1798; Fax: (902) 585-1059; Email: mark.mallor@acadiau.ca

Jennifer Provencher, Biology Department, Acadia University, Wolfville
Email: jennifpro@gmail.com

Project team:

Amie Black, Birgit Braune, Robert Letcher, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Peter Ross, Vancouver Aquarium

Project Duration: 2016-present

Northern regions in the study: High Arctic


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Plastic debris is commonly ingested by seabirds, even in high Arctic waters. Only recently has attention turned to potential impacts of this ingested pollution. There is increasing evidence that once marine plastic pollution reaches the gut of seabirds, plastics release contaminants that may have negative effects on wildlife. This study aims to assess how plastic-associated chemical contaminants may be transferred to Arctic food webs via ingested plastics in Arctic marine birds (i.e. northern fulmars). This work will be done through the use of samples already collected and stored at the National Wildlife Research Centre (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, ON). Although plastics are both a source and a carrier for chemical contaminants in marine animals, little work has been done in the Arctic region beyond initial plastic ingestion studies. Marine plastic debris has been listed by the United Nations Environment Program as one of the most important emerging environmental concerns, and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program working group of the Arctic Council is including marine plastics in their upcoming emerging contaminants assessment. Therefore, studies demonstrating the extent and impact of plastics are critical to both domestic and international chemical assessment activities. This work is also relevant to informing studies on the health of harvested species.

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Glacier melt and soil/permafrost thaw inputs of mercury and emerging organic contaminants to a pristine high Arctic watershed in Quttinirpaaq National Park, northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut

Project leaders:

Vincent L. St. Louis, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Tel: (780) 492-9386; Fax: (780) 492-9234; Email: vince.stlouis@ualberta.ca

Dr. Derek M. Muir, Senior Research Scientist, Aquatic Contaminants Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burlington
Tel: (905) 319-6921; Fax (905) 336-6430; Email: derek.muir@ec.gc.ca

Dr. Igor Lehnherr, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Toronto-Mississauga, Mississauga
Tel: (905) 569-5769; Email:igor.lehnherr@utoronto.ca

Kyra St-Pierre, Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Tel: (780) 492-0900; Fax: (780) 492-9234; Email: kyra2@ualberta.ca

Project team:

Charles Talbot, Environment and Climate Change Canada Technical Operations, Burlington; Undergraduate Summer Research Assistant, University of Alberta: Emma Hanson, Jane Chisholm, and two seasonal employees from northern communities, Parks Canada, High Arctic; Christine Spencer, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Dr. Mingsheng Ma, University of Alberta Biogeochemical analytic service Laboratory

Project Duration: 2013-present

Northern Regions: High Arctic


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Elevated winter atmospheric loadings and springtime runoff of mercury (Hg) and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) to the Lake Hazen high Arctic watershed in Quttinirpaaq National Park, Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, were measured with previous Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) funding. Previous project activities also included examining how that runoff changed concentrations of those contaminants in Lake Hazen during the important spring bloom of biological activity under the lake ice. In the relatively warm summer of 2015, the project team began to quantify glacier and soil/permafrost thaw inputs of Hg, PFASs, and, organophosphorus flame retardants (OPFRs) to Lake Hazen, and the impacts of these contaminants on the lake’s water quality. Some of the important 2015 measures will be continued and expanded on during Summer 2016, with a focus on Hg, to better understand inter-annual and inter-site variation. The overall goal is to construct a current-day watershed-scale mass-balance budget for these contaminants. From a socio-economic perspective, understanding present-day contaminant loadings, water quality, and climate change impacts is important for predicting how the abundances and quality of certain Inuit traditional food sources may be altered by future human activities.


Synopsis (2015-2016)

Abstract:

The high Arctic continues to receive a wide range of contaminants released by human activities in more southerly latitudes and industrialized nations around the world. Thankfully, due to emission regulations and bans in their usage, concentrations of certain legacy contaminants have been declining in the high Arctic. However, a number of contaminants such as mercury (Hg), as well as new, emerging and yet unregulated persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as certain poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) and organophosphorus flame retardants (OPFRs),continue to be of priority concerns. Furthermore, it now appears that climate change is also influencing the long-range transport, fate and bioaccumulation of contaminants like Hg and POPs in the Arctic. Recent funding has allowed us to study mercury in the winter atmosphere, springtime runoff of total mercury,and how that runoff changed concentrations of those contaminants in Lake Hazen during the important spring bloom of biological activity under the lake ice. In summer 2015, we began to quantify glacier and soil/permafrost thaw inputs of Hg, PFASs and OPFRs to this watershed. From a socio-economic perspective, understanding present-day contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts is important for predicting how the abundances and quality of certain organisms used as Inuit traditional foods may be altered by future human activities.

Key messages:

  • Filtered (dissolved) concentrations of both THg and MeHg in glacial river water were much lower than unfiltered concentrations, suggesting that the majority of THg and MeHg in glacial runoff is particle bound or mineral in origin. As such, THg and MeHg concentrations increased with increasing river flow and erosion intensities.
  • Unlike Hg, glacial river flow intensity and erosional materials do not appear to influence PFASs loadings into Lake Hazen, and that their source is melt water originating from more recently deposited snow and ice on glaciers.
  • We found that small lakes and wetlands were both sites of active microbial Hg methylation. Unlike glacial rivers, a much larger portion of the MeHg was in the dissolved phase and not particle bound, making the MeHg much more readily bioavailable for bioaccumulation in these systems.
  • We hypothesize that PFASs in the continuum region of the watershed that we sampled are representative of local sources, due to human activity in the Park.
  • MeHg concentrations were extremely low throughout the water column after the height of summer glacial melt and soil/permafrost thaw inputs.

Synopsis (2014-2015)

Abstract:

The high Arctic continues to receive a wide range of contaminants released by human activities in more southerly latitudes and industrialized nations around the world.  Thankfully, due to emission regulations and bans in their usage, concentrations of certain legacy contaminants have been declining in the high Arctic.  However, a number of contaminants such as mercury (Hg), as well as new, emerging and yet unregulated persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as certain poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), continue to be of priority concerns.  Furthermore, it now appears that climate change is also influencing the long-range transport, fate and bioaccumulation of contaminants like Hg and POPs in the Arctic.  We are quantifying contaminant loadings in snowpacks and meltwater, water quality and climate change impacts in the pristine Lake Hazen watershed, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.  From a socio-economic perspective, understanding present-day contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts is important for predicting how the abundances and quality of certain organisms used as Inuit traditional foods may be altered by future human activities.  We found high concentrations of total mercury (THg; all forms of Hg in a sample), methylmercury (MeHg; the toxic and bioaccumulating form of Hg) and PFASs in snowpacks.  Most of the THg and MeHg was bound to particles in the snow.  Concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs in snowmelt runoff initially resembled those found in certain snowpacks, but declined over time as particles settled out.  Snow meltwater inputs to Lake Hazen from the lake surface and the surrounding landscape more than doubled concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs in surface waters.  Concentrations of MeHg increased slightly in zooplankton following snowmelt. This occurred when there was a spring pulse of biological activity under the lake ice.

Key messages:

  • Concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs were much higher in "dirty" snowpacks than in snowpacks with much fewer particles. Approximately 95% of the THg and 80% of the MeHg was bound to particles.
  • Concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs in snowmelt runoff from the landscape initially resembled concentrations in the light snowpack on the surface of Lake Hazen, but declined to much lower concentrations by early June, suggesting that most of the particle-bound contaminants coming off the landscape settled out quickly and were not delivered to Lake Hazen
  • Snow meltwater inputs to Lake Hazen from the lake surface and the surrounding landscape more than doubled concentrations of THg, MeHg and PFASs in surface waters. This occurred when there was a spring pulse of biological activity under the lake ice.
  • Concentrations of MeHg in zooplankton increased slightly after snowmelt inputs. Results for PFASs in zooplankton are pending.

Synopsis (2013-2014)

Abstract

Human activities have elevated atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to levels that have resulted in an unequivocal warming of the Earth’s climate. This is especially true in the High Arctic, where in the past century average annual temperatures have increased at almost twice the global rate. Such warming is anticipated to result in numerous ecological impacts, including permafrost thaw and glacial melt, increased surface runoff, and enhanced productivity on landscapes. Human activities have also resulted in unprecedented releases of contaminants to the atmosphere, many of which make their way to the High Arctic. Unfortunately in many regions of the High Arctic, it is largely unknown how much change has already occurred since the beginning of industrialization and what the current state of Arctic ecosystem health is in general. We are monitoring contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts (e.g., levels of productivity) in the world’s largest lake north of 74° latitude (Lake Hazen, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut). From a socio-economic perspective, understanding present-day contaminant loadings, water quality and climate change impacts is important for predicting how the abundances and quality of certain organisms used as Inuit traditional foods may be altered by future human activities.

Key Messages

  • Mercury (Hg) and perfluorinated contaminants (PFCs) found in snow are entering Lake Hazen during spring melt and potentially entering the food web at the rapid onset of lake productivity at that time.
  • Due to warming surface temperatures of glaciers in the Lake Hazen watershed during the past 7 years, glacier melt has accelerated, resulting in more rapid flushing of water through, as well as delivery of contaminants to, Lake Hazen.
  • Lake Hazen is becoming ice-free in the summer more frequently, and is staying ice-free longer into the autumn.
  • Lengthening of the ice-free season is resulting in changes in algae productivity in Lake Hazen.

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The effect of retrogressive thaw slumps on the delivery of high loads of toxic methylmercury to downstream freshwater systems in the Peel Plateau region, NT

Project leaders:

Suzanne E. Tank, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Tel:780-248-1152; Fax : 780-492-9234; E-mail : suzanne.tank@ualberta.ca

Dr. Vincent St. Louis, Professor Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Tel: 780-492-9386; Fax: 780-492-9234; E-mail: vince.stlouis@ualberta.ca

Project team:

Kyra St. Pierre, Scott Zolkos, and Sarah Shakil, University of Alberta; Undergraduate summer research assistant, University of Alberta; Fort McPherson community members; Dr. Mingsheng Ma, University of Alberta Biogeochemical Analytical Service Laboratory

Duration: 2016-present

Northern Regions: Northwest Territories


Project Summary (2016-2017)

Permafrost thaw can considerably increase the transport of materials from land to freshwater systems, including chemical contaminants previously contained in frozen soils that become available for mobilization upon thaw. In 2015, preliminary research on the Peel Plateau in the Northwest Territories showed substantial increases of methylmercury (MeHg; the toxic form of mercury that bioaccumulates in organisms and biomagnifies in food chains) in streams that had adjacent retrogressive thaw slumps (RTSs). The project team documented some of the highest concentrations of stream water MeHg ever recorded in unfiltered samples taken downstream of RTS sites. RTS features are becoming increasingly prevalent in the western Canadian Arctic with changes in climate. These features have been associated with changes in non-Hg stream water chemistry far downstream. During the summer of 2016, the project team will follow up on preliminary 2015 research by exploring how slumping affects stream water Hg concentrations with increasing distance downstream from slumps. In addition, seasonal variability in the effect of slumping on stream water Hg will be quantified. The Peel Plateau and downstream reaches are used extensively by local communities for traditional hunting and fishing practices. This work on the Peel Plateau occurs in consultation with the Tetlit Gwich’in, who are directly involved in field efforts.

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