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Mercury and lead contamination tied to ADHD in Inuit

In the northern Quebec, there are about 11,000 Inuit, the most highly exposed population in the world to PCB and mercury pollution. Air-borne contaminants from the south fall in northern areas and bioaccumulate in the animals that Inuit eat. Burning coal is the largest source of mercury. A Quebec researcher, Gina Muckle, has now proven that babies with higher levels of lead and mercury in cord blood grow up to be children with higher rates of ADHD. Symptoms include: inattention difficulties in school, aggressive behaviors, non-respect of rules and hyperactivity.

We do not know how much of the much-discussed violence in aboriginal communities is due to this type of pollution.

Prof. Muckle has so far followed a cohort of babies from birth to age 11.  She found that children with higher cord mercury concentrations at birth were about 3 times more likely to be classified by their teacher as exhibiting the inattentive type of ADHD. Children with higher lead levels at birth were four to five times more likely to be classified with hyperactive impulsivity, and had greater aggression.

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