Fisheries & Ecological Services
In northern regions, contaminants such as organochlorine pesticides,
PCBs, and heavy metals are of concern due to their persistence, toxicity,
and deposition by global transport. Localized sources of contamination
such as landfills, leaking drums and abandoned structures also exist in some
areas. While the presence of various contaminants has been documented
in Alaskan fish and wildlife, potential risks of these contaminants
to wildlife resources, and to the people who rely on those resources
for subsistence, are poorly understood.
Elevated contaminant concentrations in fish and wildlife have the
potential to negatively affect population size, health and viability.
Consequently, contaminants may impact the long-term availability of
resources harvested by subsistence users. The Service has conducted
a limited number of studies evaluating contaminants in wildlife used
for subsistence, and we intend to conduct additional studies as funding
We provide data collected during these studies to public health agencies
and Alaska Native science and health organizations, who cooperatively
evaluate the benefits and potential risks of consuming traditional
foods as part of a subsistence lifestyle.
Last updated: March 23, 2010