Video: An introduction to the Northern Contaminants Program

An introduction to the Northern Contaminants Program


The Arctic remains one of the least polluted regions on Earth.

Nevertheless, its unique environment makes it particularly vulnerable to invisible pollutants from distant parts of the globe that make their way to the Arctic through air, rivers and oceans, and subsequently build up in the food chain.

Indigenous peoples of Canada’s North, including Inuit, First Nations and Métis, rely on foods harvested from the land and sea as an important part of their diet.

These foods provide many health, economic, social and cultural benefits; however, they can also expose people to contaminants such as persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, and mercury.

For more than 25 years, the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) has been working in partnership with Indigenous peoples, northern communities, governments and scientists to coordinate research activities, including the monitoring of contaminant levels in people and various wildlife species.

The goal of the Northern Contaminants Program is to reduce sources of long-range pollutants in the Arctic, and provide information that helps Northerners make choices about the foods they eat.

The Northern Contaminants Program funds innovative projects that are guided by both scientific and Indigenous knowledge, including community-based monitoring of various wildlife species, like caribou, ringed seal, and fish, and monitoring of contaminant levels in people.

While there is still more to learn about this complex issue, we have gained a deep understanding of what contaminants mean for the health of people and wildlife in the Arctic, and about how effective global action can reduce arctic contaminants.

The NCP is also learning about the new chemicals and emerging issues we need to be looking out for in the future.

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