Diet, lifestyle and contaminants in three east Greenland Inuit municipalities

Manhai Long*, Christian Sonne, Rune Dietz, Rossana Bossi, Najannguaq Jørgensen, Taatsiannguaq Inuuteq Olsen, Eva Cecilie Bonefeld-Jørgensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Persistent organic pollutants (POP) are environmental contaminants transported over long distances to the Arctic where they biomagnify in marine mammals subsistence hunted by Inuit and may therefore affect human health. Marine mammals in East Greenland are known to have the highest POP concentrations in the circumpolar Arctic area. Due to high intake of marine mammals, East Greenlandic Inuit likewise have the highest POP body burdens across the Arctic. This cross-sectional study aims to investigate the levels of POP and metals in Inuit with a high intake of top predatory species including killer whales and polar bears. Study participants include 37 men and 21 women from Kulusuk, Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit during year 2013-2015. Lipophilic POP (11 organochlorine-pesticides, 14 polychlorinated-biphenyls (PCB), 10 polybrominated diphenyl ethers), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PFUA) and cotinine were determined in plasma. Fifteen perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) were measured in serum and urine and the renal clearance was estimated. Finally the concentration of 10 metals were measured in whole blood. The median age was 38 years, Ittoqqortoormiit Inuit being the oldest. The smoking rate was around 70%, and Kulusuk participants had the lowest PFUA concentrations. Significant municipality differences were observed for lipophilic POP, serum PFAS, mercury, arsenic and selenium with highest concentrations in Ittoqqortoormiit Inuit. Males had higher blood concentrations of PFAS and lead. The estimated PFAS renal clearance and ratio of urine to serum were significantly higher for females, suggesting a sex difference in excretion via the kidney, maybe partly because men had higher serum PFAS concentrations. We observed that Inuit with intake of >200 g polar bear per week had significantly higher levels of PCB, PFAS, arsenic and selenium. In summary, the level of blood POP and heavy metals seems to relate to sex and the frequency intake of meat from marine mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140368
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Diet
  • East Greenland
  • Lifestyle
  • Metals
  • PFAS
  • POP
  • Life Style
  • Inuit
  • Arsenic
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Mammals
  • Animals
  • Environmental Pollutants/analysis
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Cities
  • Selenium
  • Greenland


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