Inuit Health Education and Adaptation

Current research projects (2019-2024)

Microplastics and Associated Chemicals: Transport to and within the Canadian Arctic (MPACs)

Microplastics are found in every environment throughout the globe, including the Arctic. Evidence is mounting that exposure to microplastics and associated chemicals are harmful to biota including humans. In response to this evidence, Canada initiated the Oceans Plastic Charters under the G7; the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) are also developing a national strategy on “zero plastic waste”. This project aims to characterize and benchmark levels of microplastics, tracking all associated chemicals in the Canadian Arctic. Characterizations that specifically determine microplastics sources are integral for developing effective mitigation strategies, while benchmarking levels are needed to gauge the effectiveness of these strategies. This essential information supports investigations into the impacts of microplastics on the Northern environment. Both the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) and the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) identify microplastics as an emerging Arctic Concern. AMAP’s recently released guidance document on the collection, processing and reporting of plastics in the Arctic environment ensures reliable assessment of spatial and temporal trends; the project lead and a team member serve this AMAP expert group in official capacities. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutant (SC-POPs) recently adopted the risk profile for UV-328 (plastic associated chemical), noting it is likely to undergo long-range environmental transport, which leads to adverse ecological effects. In addition to addressing many gaps in plastics research, we propose to continue training students from both the South and North, and continue to solicit and address the concerns of northern communities in regards to microplastics.