Arctic Pollutants Come From U.S., Mexico

ByABC News
October 4, 2000, 8:58 AM

N E W   Y O R K, Oct. 4 -- Cancer-causing dioxinspolluting Canadas Arctic region have been linked for the firsttime to specific incinerators and smelters thousands of miles south in the United States, Canada and Mexico, a studyreleased on Tuesday said.

The authors said a number of major sources of dioxinemissions have been restricted since the research undertaken inNunavut territory for the North American Commission forEnvironmental Cooperation (NACEC) from July 1, 1996, to June 30,1997.

But Greg Block of the Montreal-based organization said thestudy demonstrates that we should revise our concept ofneighbors. In a very real sense, because of the long-rangeatmospheric transport of substances like dioxins, the Inuitpeople of the far north are our neighbors.

They receive pollutants, a problem not of their making,that can impact on their very way of life and culture.

Pollutants in Meat, Breast Milk

Dioxins, which are produced by chemical processes such asmetal refining, the chlorinated bleaching of pulp and paper andburning certain materials, have been linked in other studies tocancer, birth defects and neurological, reproductive and immunesystem damage in people and animals.

Researchers for NACEC, a group established under the NorthAmerican Free Trade Agreement, were not required to study thehealth effects on humans and wildlife.

However, a summary of the study headed by scientist BarryCommoner of Queens College, City University of New York, statedthat for years, dioxins have been detected in the Arctic dietof fish, seal and caribou meat and recently, in Inuit mothersbreast milk. The sources of dioxins clearly migrate fromsomewhere else, but where they come from has not been knownuntil now.

Diet Change Not an Option

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, president of the non-profit InuitCircumpolar Conference Canada group, said at the newsconference that some have suggested the Inuit change theirdiets to avoid exposure.