Cord blood, blood and hair tests show mercury exposure in Grassy Narrows - 2018-02-12
GRASSY NARROWS FIRST NATION, Ont.—Chrissy Swain was one of hundreds of infants on this reserve who, between 1970 and 1992, had their umbilical cord blood tested for mercury by the federal government. While Health Canada stored the data for decades in boxes in its archives, Swain, who only recently received her test results, grew up with problems that could be attributed to mercury poisoning. Her mother took her to a doctor as a toddler because she was clumsy. Into adulthood, her hands began to tingle. Today, she can't open bottles.
Swain's reading showed a mercury concentration of 17.5 parts per billion (ppb) — more than double the level that Health Canada currently finds concerning — and would trigger additional testing and dietary advice for children and women under 50, according to the regulator. It is three times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's threshold.
Research shows her level is high enough to have increased her risk of having had learning disabilities or motor skill deficits as a child and, as an adult, a heart condition or accelerated aging.