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Monitoring of umbilical cord blood lead levels and sources assessment among the Inuit
  1. B Lévesque1,
  2. J-F Duchesne1,
  3. C Gariépy2,
  4. M Rhainds1,
  5. P Dumas3,
  6. A M Scheuhammer4,
  7. J-F Proulx5,
  8. S Déry6,
  9. G Muckle1,
  10. F Dallaire1,
  11. É Dewailly1
  1. 1Unité de recherche en santé publique, Centre de recherche du CHUL-CHUQ, 945, avenue Wolfe, Sainte-Foy, Québec, G1V 5B3, Canada
  2. 2GEOTOP, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3P8, Canada
  3. 3Centre de toxicologie du Québec, Pavillon CHUL, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec, 945, avenue Wolfe, Sainte-Foy, Québec, G1V 5B3, Canada
  4. 4Canadian Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Centre, 100 Gamelin Boulevard, Hull, Québec, K1A 0H3, Canada
  5. 5Nunavik Board of Health and Social Services, 2400 d’Estimauville, Beauport, Québec, G1E 7G9, Canada
  6. 6Nunavik Board of Health and Social Services, 4, rue Rogers Lane, Drummondville, Québec, J2C 1H8, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr B Lévesque, Unité de recherche en santé publique du CHUL-CHUQ, 945, avenue Wolfe, Sainte-Foy, Québec, G1V 5B3, Canada; 


Analyses completed on samples collected between 1993 and 1996 showed that about 7% of 475 Inuit newborns from northern Quebec (Canada) had a cord blood lead concentration equal to or greater than 0.48 μmol/l, an intervention level adopted by many governmental agencies. A comparison between the cord blood lead isotope ratios of Inuit and southern Quebec newborns showed that lead sources for these populations were different. Our investigation suggests that lead shots used for game hunting were an important source of lead exposure in the Inuit population. A cohort study conducted in three Inuit communities shows a significant decrease of cord blood lead concentrations after a public health intervention to reduce the use of lead shot. Lead shot ammunition can be a major and preventable source of human exposure to lead.

  • lead
  • Inuit
  • newborn

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