The study found no link between ADHD and PCBs, although previous U.S. studies have reported a link.
Mercury and PCBs migrate long distances via the air and ocean currents, collecting in marine food webs. Beluga, narwhal, seals and other marine animals that are traditional foods for Arctic populations have among the world’s highest levels of PCBs and other contaminants. As a result, the Inuit are among the highest exposed people on Earth.
Public health officials in Nunavik last year advised pregnant women to reduce their consumption of beluga because of the chemicals’ potential health effects on their children.
Lead in the environment is decreasing, while mercury levels are increasing many places.
Lanphear, Muckle and Webster agreed that the study is evidence that there should be local as well as international efforts to reduce children’s exposure to mercury. A large source is coal-burning power plants, particularly in China.
“This research supports that mercury and lead are a problem, for many health outcomes, one of them being ADHD. The question is, what can be done about it?” Webster said.
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.