Giant Mine Health Effects Monitoring Program

This Program ensures the remediation activities at Giant Mine do not have a negative impact on people's health.

What is the purpose of this study?

The Health Effects Monitoring Program will establish current (baseline) levels of arsenic and other contaminants of concern in people's bodies. This will take place before the cleanup starts. Then, during remediation, the participants will provide samples again. Their new results will be compared to the baseline results. This will help to ensure the remediation activities don't negatively impact people's health.

This study is led by the University of Ottawa's Dr. Laurie Chan, with advice and input from the Health Effect Monitoring Program Advisory Committee and additional support from the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research.

The Program will implement precautions to protect individual privacy and personal information, and meet the requirements of Measure 9 of the Mackenzie Valley Review Board's Report of Environmental Assessment.

What will the program involve?

The Program will measure current levels of arsenic and other contaminants through biological sampling, such as collecting:

The program will also review medical records for Yellowknife and North Slave Métis residents, in addition to carrying out a medical questionnaire, and a brief medical exam with Yellowknives Dene Members, as requested by the First Nation members.

The program will select approximately 2000 people from Ndilo, Dettah, and Yellowknife participate over two years through statistically-supported random sampling to ensure the results represent the entire community. Anyone who wants to participate can volunteer.

Scientific methods available today can only measure current levels of arsenic and other contaminants in the body, up to about three months. This means this study cannot determine how much exposure to contaminants people had in the past. However, the study will also look at other factors that could affect people's contaminant levels, such as:

Participation in previous health studies

The program has also identified results from historical studies related to arsenic and health. If current participants grant the Program permission to view these records, the results can be compared to their current exposure levels. Participants will receive copies of their results. The Program can also advise previous study participants who do not want to participate in the current study as to how they can access their records

Who can volunteer to participate, and how?

Anyone can volunteer to participate in this study, so long as they:

To volunteer, you can contact the University of Ottawa team conducting the study directly at:

Phone: 613-325-9080

Email: ykhemp@uottawa.ca

Who is involved?

Dr. Laurie Chan was selected to lead this study. He is a professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Toxicology and Environmental Health. He also sits on the Independent Peer Review Panel for the Remediation Project and is familiar with Giant Mine-related issues.

Dr. Chan has a great deal of experience with health studies in the North and working closely with northern and Indigenous communities.

In addition, a Health Effects Monitoring Program Advisory Committee was created in September 2016. The Committee provides advice to Dr. Chan and his team members as they develop and implement the monitoring program. Members provide health expertise as well as community and regional knowledge. The Committee includes representatives from:

The Committee meets monthly, and provides advice to Dr. Chan and his team throughout the Program.

Public participation and engagement

Public engagement helps the Project team incorporate public concerns into formal studies. While the team may not be able to address every concern, we will do our best to respond to them in a meaningful way.

Dr. Chan and his team have a website with information and resources, including upcoming events and activities. You can visit it here.

In addition, the Project team will continue to update residents about the health effects monitoring via the Giant Mine e-newsletter, including when the program anticipates beginning.

You can also stay informed by:

Other health-related studies and links

In addition to health effects monitoring, the Project team will complete two other health-related studies:

All three health-related studies are linked but have different objectives. They are being conducted separately. The Project team will identify links, and shared information between the three studies.

Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA)             

The risk assessment estimates the nature and probability of effects on people and the environment when exposed to chemicals in contaminated environmental media. The potential sources of contamination include:

The risk assessment determines:

The results of the assessment will allow the Project team to improve the remediation plan. The HHERA will meet the requirements of Measure 10 of the Mackenzie Valley Review Board's Report of Environmental Assessment. Canada North Environmental Services (CanNorth) conducted the study. More information can be found here.

Stress Study

The scope of the stress study is still under development. However, it is expected to:

Participants will help develop a survey to measure and analyze stress effects. Wilfred Laurier University's Dr. Ketan Shankardass will lead this study.

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