The researcher heading up a human-health study during the remediation of Giant Mine is seeking input from residents this week on the study’s
Residents are invited to take part in a community consultation on the Health Effects Monitoring Program (HEMP), led by the University of Ottawa’s Dr. Laurie Chan, at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre tomorrow night.
“It’s very critical that we get everybody’s input,” said Chan, a professor and Canada research chair in toxicology and environmental health. “I want to hear what people would like to see. It’s a dialogue, really.”
The health study is meant to gather baseline information from residents in Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah about their exposure to arsenic and other contaminants amid the cleanup at Giant Mine.
Approximately 2,000 residents will be chosen to participate, according to a brochure on the study.
Approximately 1,500 residents will be chosen randomly to participate, Chan said.
Researchers will collect toenail, urine and saliva samples from participants to measure their contaminant levels, and will then ask people to complete a short questionnaire about how much fish they eat and their potential lifetime exposure to contaminants.
Chan said the researchers will also ask consent to look at participants’ medical files so they can determine their exposure levels.
“The plan is to follow up, to repeat the study every five to 10 years to make sure the levels go down, hopefully, and aren’t going up,” he said.
The Yellowknife meeting is one of three taking place this week.
The research team will also meet with members of the North Slave Metis Alliance tonight and with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation in Dettah tomorrow morning.
“This is the final stage that we can fine-tune the design of the project,” said Chan, who added residents will be chosen for the study this summer.
“At these meetings, I present the idea of the design and listen to people’s concerns,” he said. “And any suggestions of improvement.”
According to a brochure on the study, it is being done with support from a number of groups: the GNWT, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, North Slave Metis Alliance, the Giant Mine Oversight Board and the City of Yellowknife.
Chan has been designing the study since last fall.
It is expected to roll out this September and will take place over the course of two years, he said.