Study indicates link between oilsands pollution and higher cancer rates in area residents and animals. Local Cree chief says action must be taken now
By Deab Bennett, Canadian Press, reposted from the Toronto Star, July 7, 2014
EDMONTON—A new study by two Alberta First Nations and University of Manitoba scientists says there is a link between oilsands pollutants and higher levels of heavy metals in wildlife, and higher cancer rates in residents.
“There’s something unique that is happening in Fort Chipewyan,” Stéphane McLachlan, the lead researcher from the university, told a news conference Monday. “It’s a situation that is alarming and demands attention.”
The report — titled Environmental and Human Health Implications of Athabasca Oil Sands — is the result of three years of research. It was funded by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Mikisew Cree First Nation.
The study says it found 23 cases of cancer in 94 participants.
“Cancer occurrence increased significantly with participant employment in the oilsands and with the increased consumption of traditional foods and locally caught fish,” said the report.
It also found total levels of carcinogens in the traditionally hunted foods were higher compared with similar studies around the world. MORE
Dr Stephané McLachlan – Health Study
New scientific research has found that wild-caught foods in northern Alberta have higher-than-normal levels of pollutants the study associates with oil sands production, but First Nations are already shifting away from their traditional diets out of fears over contamination.
The research, to be officially released on Monday, found contaminants in traditional foods such as muskrat and moose, and that aboriginal community members feel less healthy than they did a generation ago, according to an executive summary obtained by The Globe and Mail. MORE