Environment & Health Seminar: Environmental Injustice in Nunavik: Temporal Trends in Perfluoroalkyl Acids Concentrations and Association with Country Foods Consumption During Pregnancy

When and Where

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 4:10 pm to 6:00 pm


Élyse Caron-Beaudoin, Assistant Professor in Environmental Health at the Department of Health and Society, University of Toronto Scarborough

Abstract: Background: Currently used fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) are transported to the Arctic and degraded in a number of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) which biomagnify in Arctic wildlife.

Objectives: Using data from 279 pregnant Inuit women recruited as part of biomonitoring projects in Nunavik from 2004 to 2017, our objectives were to evaluate: (i) time-trends in plasma/serum PFAAs levels in pregnant Nunavimmiut women; and (ii) the associations of PFAAs levels with the consumption of country foods during pregnancy in 2016-2017.

Methods: Individual blood sample were collected for PFAAs (PFOS, PFOA, PFBA, PFHxA, PFBS, PFHxS, PFNA, PFDA, PFUdA) analyses. Omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) were measured in red blood cell membranes. Their ratio was used as a biomarker of marine country foods consumption. Time-trends in PFAAs levels were evaluated using ANCOVA models. The associations between concentrations of PFAAs and country foods consumption were examined using multivariate regression models.

Results: PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS concentrations significantly declined between 2004 and 2017. Since 2011, PFNA, PFDA and PFUdA maternal serum concentrations increased by 19, 13 and 21% respectively. Finally, PFHxS, PFOS, PFNA, PFDA and PFUdA levels in 2016-2017 were strongly associated with the omega-3/omega-6 PUFA ratio, indicating a positive association between marine country foods consumption and exposure to PFAAs.

Conclusions: The exposure of pregnant women to long-chain PFAAs increased from 2004 to 2017 in Nunavik. Associations between the omega-3/omega-6 ratio and PFAAs concentrations highlights the importance of implementing additional strict regulations on PFAAs and their precursors to protect the high nutritional quality and cultural importance of country foods.

Brief Bio: Élyse Caron-Beaudoin is an Assistant Professor in environmental health at the Department of Health and Society at UTSC. Her research focuses on the development of community-based transdisciplinary research projects to assess the impacts of anthropogenic pressures on health by combining information from multiple levels of biological organization. Élyse holds a PhD in biology with a specialisation in toxicology from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique – Armand-Frappier Institute in Laval, Quebec. From 2018 to 2020, she was a CIHR-funded postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the Université de Montreal. During her fellowship, Élyse investigated the associations between density and proximity to hydraulic fracturing wells and birth outcomes in Northeast British Columbia. She also instigated in partnership with First Nations from the region, the first biomonitoring studies on exposure to environmental contaminants associated with unconventional natural gas exploitation in Canada. She is a collaborator and co-investigator on several other research projects on environmental and Indigenous health, including in the Arctic. Her research interests are at the nexus of toxicology, molecular biology, public and environmental health, and community-based research.

Location: ONLINE. To register for this event, please open the Eventbrite page.