Environmental contaminants

Environmental Contaminants

There are many types of environmental contaminants, including heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants and radionuclides. Some contaminants come from local sources but most come from other parts of the world.

Consumption advice is issued by the Chief Public Health Officer when elevated levels of contaminants in traditional foods present a human health risk to consumers.

The GNWT’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Government of Canada, along with other independent researchers (e.g. universities), perform studies that measure the levels of contaminants in wildlife, air, water, soils and sediments. In some cases, humans have been studied directly for contaminant levels in blood, urine or hair. These levels are assessed for human health risks and health messaging is issued when necessary.  The Chief Public Health Officer consults with expert toxicologists when developing this messaging.

For information on contaminants and human health, see:

For information on asbestos, please visit the Government of Canada’s website:

For information on environmental monitoring of wildlife, air, water, soils and sediments see:

For information on the federal Northern Contaminants Program, see: