On this call, Lee Bell, Mercury Policy Advisor for the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) discusses an IPEN and Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) study that was undertaken to measure the prevalence of mercury body burden at levels that can cause neurological and organ damage. Mercury in a mother’s body can be transferred to her fetus during pregnancy, exposing the developing fetus to the potent neurotoxin.
Researchers from IPEN coordinated hair sampling from 1044 women of reproductive age in 37 locations across 25 countries on 6 continents. Women from the communities of Savoonga and Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska were among those who participated in the study. On this call, Community Health Researcher Erika Apatiki of Gambell talks about participating in the study and how the Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island bear a disproportionate burden of exposure to mercury. There are no local sources of pollution, yet many of their traditional foods from the sea are contaminated with mercury.
Listen to this podcast to learn more about the predominant sources of mercury pollution, the urgent need for action to phase out these sources, results of the study, and outcomes from an international meeting in Geneva to discuss next steps for the new, international, legally-binding treaty known as the Minimata Convention on Mercury.
Lee Bell, IPEN Mercury Policy Advisor, Principal Investigator of study
Erika Apatiki, Community Health Researcher, Gambell, St. Lawrence Island