Contaminants in the traditional Greenland diet
Marine mammals such as seals, whales, fish and seabirds contain important vitamins and minerals, and fats that are considered to have a positive effect on health. These animals also contain high levels of contaminants (heavy metals and persistent substances like PCB), suspected of being harmful to health. The National Environmental Research Institute, NERI, has made a study to systematically survey the content of contaminants in the most important items of the traditional Greenland diet.
The study shows that the traditional diet is a dominant contributor to human exposure to contaminants in Greenland. Generally, the content of contaminants is low in terrestrial animals like reindeer, and in meat from sea mammals. However, blubber of seal and whale contains larger concentrations of persistent substances, and the liver of seabirds and the liver and kidneys of seal and whale contain large concentrations of heavy metals, several in concentrations so high that international limit values for the acceptable human intake via the daily diet are exceeded. The content of contaminants in the most important items of traditional Greenland diet is generally lower than in similar items in Europe and North America.
The daily intake of the substances can be reduced by eating less of or completely avoid eating the parts of the animals that contain the high concentrations.
The results of the study are presented in a NERI technical report (no. 492): ”Contaminants in the traditional Greenland diet”.
Further information: Poul Johansen, National Environmental Research Institute. Phone: +45 4630 1936. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the report on the NERI website: http://www.dmu.dk/1_viden/2_Publikationer/3_fagrapporter/rapporter/FR492.PDF
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