Thursday, December 29, 2011

Major Health Hazard for the Inupiaq People of Alaska

By Pamela Rae Schuffert presenting investigative journalism from a Biblical Christian perspective-


As unsettling as this article may be to the local Inupiaq community, I felt is was in their best interests to publish this important information, due to health concerns. People should become informed about health hazards in their communities, in order to protect their health and their families' health as well.-PRS

In researching health hazards to the American people due to environmental and industrial pollution, I read a book written by Loretta Schwartz-Nobel called "Poisoned Nation". This book outlined, in the beginning, the tragedy of the Inuit people encountering modern industrial pollution and the health issues it created for them.

In this book, the author  outlined how scientists testing the Inuits for evidence of pollution creating health hazards, noted that Inuit/Inupiaq mothers had the highest levels of toxins in their mothers' breast milk of ANY people they tested. But how could this be, up in the Arctic circle and in pristine wilderness settings, far from any industry (except for RED DOG MINE about 40 miles outside Kotzebue)?

These people have lived on wild game and food coming from the ocean for thousands of years. Seafood includes, seal, whale, fish and other forms as well. When scientists tested the seafood most heavily consumed by the Inuit/Inupiak, they discovered that all this seafood was polluted with industrial toxins and by-products, directly through the food chain. Not only were the Inuit ingesting these toxins through consumption of seafood, but the land animals who also rely on these seafoods were becoming adversely affected with health issues as well.

Scientists noted that polar bears, who rely heavily on seafood for survival were experiencing even genetic deformities such as dual sex organs (hermaphrodite or male/female organs) and other unsettling abnormalities as well.

According to reports I have read, the ocean currents are carrying these industrial pollutants from the USA, and foreign nations as well, all the way up to the Arctic and the North Pole regions. Air currents are also carrying pollutants, which then are dispersed in the form of rain and snow, etc. Once they arrive here in the Arctic, they are having a very negative and adverse effect on the food chain and wreaking havoc on nature in many ways.

And now, in the midst of this disturbing information, comes time for comic relief. Somewhere on the Internet  while researching, I found this unusual photo taken at sea. I just had to wonder: is this  how far the genetic mutations are progressing at this time? What weird creatures are destined to come out of our polluted oceans next? Arggh!
And now, back to reality.......
More recently, due to the radiation fallout from the FUKUSHIMA nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan, radiation is being dispersed high into the atmosphere, and moving west with the wind patterns, to be dispersed on the ground or waterways through rain/snow and particulate matter onto other nations, especially the western coastal regions of North America and ALASKA. Even now, scientists are testing the wildlife here in Alaska and western Canada for evidence of nuclear radiation being assimilated into the food chain here.
The nuclear radiation pollution from the Fukushima meltdown in Japan is also filling the ocean with this deadly hazard as well. Many ill or dying seals are being washed up even right here on the coast of Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. Their symptoms are similar to the effects of radiation poisoning.

Photographs of these sick seals show hair loss, lesions, severe irritation around eyes and mucous membranes, and more. Scientists are very puzzled in examining them, because they are finding no evidence of any disease. And now, they are looking to the possibilities of radiation poisoning as the culprit.

The traditional Inuit/Inupiaq diet has always included seal oil and meat, heavily here in the Kotzebue area in fact. And if the radiation from Fukushima is affecting the seal population even here off the west coast of Alaska, then imagine the potential for it to adversely affect other forms of seafood, such as the famed Alaskan salmon.

From THE INTEL HUB comes the following report covering evidence of radiation being dispersed through the air currents, including rain/snow, etc. upon North America. :

By Alex Thomas

July 19, 2011

Multiple videos have been released showing high levels of radiation in Canada as the corporate media continues to cover up the real dangers posed by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.The tests were taken in multiple places in Canada including Lake Louise BC, Kelowna BC, Red Deer/Edmonton, and Hope BC. [This also means that the same dangerous radiation is affecting ALASKA as well, since the weather patters move from west to east.-PRS]

The radiation tests that were taken near Lake Louise BC clearly showed harmful radiation levels up to 1.66 mcSv/hr .So far Canadian and American authorities have remained silent. We must DEMAND action from local health authorities. If these levels of radiation are being picked up in Canada it seems only a matter of time before they reach the west coast of the United States.This should be a RED ALERT to all Americans and Canadians!-End of article

(Drat! And just as I was beginning to enjoy occasional moose or caribou here!)

From BLUEVOICE.ORG comes the following disturbing report:

BlueVoice recently traveled to Iqaluit in the Canadian Arctic to gather information for an upcoming documentary on ocean contamination and its effects on marine mammals and humans. There, we met Shiela Watt-Cloutier, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. Sheila, a long-time spokesperson for the Inuit, has worked tirelessly to alert the world to the problems of toxic contamination in the Arctic and to bring to the public an understanding that the problems in the Arctic are global problems as well.

(for more on Shiela Watt-Cloutier, go to: )

“The Inuit of the world become the net recipients of the by-products of industry and the pesticides that are used”, Sheila explained. “ We get all the negative impacts of this. Contaminants remain here in the Arctic in high concentrations at the bottom of the Arctic sink where our marine mammals live and eat.”
                            Sheila Watt-Cloutier lecturing in York

“Tests showed that there were 8 – 10 times higher of these Persistent Organic Pollutants showing up in the fatty tissues of the marine mammals of the Arctic and then because we are marine mammal eaters of seal, whale and walrus, it was showing up 8 – 10 times higher in the body burdens of Inuit and in particular in the nursing milk of our mothers.”

BLUEVOICE.ORG continues:

Of all cultures, the Inuit people of the Arctic have been most strongly affected by ocean contamination. They are faced with the dilemma of giving up their traditional ways of eating or consuming animals that contain high concentrations of toxic chemicals. Hunting and fishing provide the Inuit with a sustainable and independent way of life and are important elements of their 4,000-year-old culture.

The animals of the Arctic now have extremely high concentrations of toxins in their body fat. Beluga Whales, ringed seals, narwhal and polar bears are carrying a huge toxic burden and experiencing the terrible effects of these chemicals.

In the mid-1980’s scientists began to find elevated levels of toxic chemicals known as POPs (persistent organic pollutants) in the blood and fat tissues of the Inuit and other people of the Arctic. Scientists say the toxins can cause cancer, damage reproductive and neurological organs, injure immune systems and cause learning disabilities.

POPs are a set of extremely toxic, long-lasting, organic chemicals that can travel long distances and accumulate in people, animals and ecosystems.

They include pesticides, insecticides, industrial chemicals such as PCBs and waste combustion such as dioxin and furan. These chemicals originate sometimes thousands of miles away. They are carried to the Arctic on wind and water currents where they bio-accumulate and bio-magnify in the Arctic food chain. Polar ice can trap contaminants that are gradually released into the environment during melting periods, even years later.

The Inuit diet of “country food’ which includes marine mammals such as beluga whale, narwhal and seal, puts them at the top of a contaminated food chain. The toxins collect in the animals' fat and are passed on to the Inuit as they eat, or through breast milk. Depending on the amount and type of country food consumed, many Inuit have levels of POPs in their bodies well in excess of the "level of concern" defined by Health Canada.

The bodies of Arctic people, particularly Greenland's Inuit, contain the highest human concentrations of POPs found anywhere on Earth — levels so extreme that the breast milk and tissues of some Greenlanders could be classified as hazardous waste.

Many POPs are endocrine disruptors that cause reproductive, neurological, and immune system dysfunctions. Studies of Inuit children have shown subtle cognitive and neurological effects on five-year-olds as a result of pre-natal exposure to PCBs and mercury.

Research published in the United States points to learning "deficits" and subtle behavioral effects in children born to mothers with high levels of POPs in their bodies. Most of these pollutants can pass through the placenta to impact unborn children in the womb. Women in these American studies had consumed, over a long period, large quantities of Lake Michigan fish contaminated with POPs. 

The levels of POPs in the mothers and their children studied in the United States are generally below levels recorded in many Inuit in northern Canada and Greenland, raising concerns about the long-term health effects of POPs on the Inuit people.

Inuit women have been found to have levels of PCB's in their breast milk 5X to 10X higher than women in southern Canada...-End of excerpt from BLUEVOICE.ORG
And all of this was BEFORE the Japan earthquake and the Fukushima meltdown and spewing of radiation into the atmosphere and the ocean in 2011! THink of how much MORE toxic this region must have become by now.

My personal response, when researching the pollution we encounter in our world today, (and becoming horrified) has been to drastically change my eating habits to primarily vegetarian/organic eating, including careful monitoring of all liquids I drink as well.

Occasionally I may enjoy some organic pasture raised meat such as bison, or wild Alaska salmon. But primarily, due to toxins and other factors, I choose to eat vegetarian/organic foods whenever possible.

However, HOW do you translate this into the Inuit lifestyle and traditional diets for thousands of years? How can you inform these people that, in order to protect themselves and their children, they must all go primarily vegetarian/organic and abandon thousands of years of traditional eating patterns..even if it the best choice for their health?

Furthermore, how practical or financially feasible is this, when the cost of fresh produce at the local "AC" (grocery store)  here in Kotzebue, Alaska, is much higher than in the "lower 48"? In trying to maintain my primarily vegetarian lifestyle, I have discovered that...

-a bag of apples is about $10.00.
-a small box of tangerines is about $12.00
-a pound of broccoli is almost $5.00 a pound
-a bag of potatoes $10.00
And more.....

However, I have noted that the AC here has excellent food choices and produce, and their prices are comparable to other food stores here in Alaska in more remote regions. I heartily encourage local readers concerned for their health and wanting to modify their diets, to go to the AC and select from their wide variety some healthy fruits and vegetables and grains such as oats, beans and rice, etc. to add to the traditional diets. In fact, I will be shopping there today for some more health food for Lisa and her family I am living with.

Or course, I realize that if these Inupiaq continue in their tradition ways of hunting and fishing, it costs them far less to feed themselves and their families financially. Many here cannot afford the high costs of maintaining this kind of vegetarian lifestyle, especially organic (everything has to be special ordered.)

But what will it cost them in terms of health (including cancer and birth defects, etc.) if they continue in their traditional ways of eating?
When I first read about the dangers of pollution to the Inuits and the Inupiaq here in Alaska, I was living thousands of miles away in North Carolina, reading Loretta Schwartz Nobels' book "POISONED NATION."  As I read her book, I became deeply moved and concerned and started praying for them and this tragic situation.  Never did I dream that someday, I would be HERE in Kotzebue, exactly where it is all happening...right in front of my eyes. How much more poignant and disturbing this situation becomes, when you suddenly find yourself living in the heart of this ongoing crisis among the Inupiaq.

My prayer is that I can do SOMETHING that can in ANY way help to positively impact the health crisis here involving illnesses due to toxic pollution in this region. Informing people of hidden dangers like this is often an excellent way of assisting, so they can make informed choices in their food modification and selections whenever possible.

This is where investigative reporting comes in, as an excellent means of informing and warning people of hazards such as this. This important aspect of my journalism I am continuing with at this time, as it is relevant to the place and people and situations I am dealing with here.

Warning people is one thing. However, the more difficult part is,  to successfully determine what can be done about this health hazard, in order to effectively cope with it. And that is what I am confronted with, since I now live here in the region that is most adversely affected these forms of  life and health-threatening pollution.

My best advice to people facing such a health crisis as this is, BECOME INFORMED by doing research. The better informed you are, the more you can avoid hidden dangers and cope successfully with any crisis you may face.

And then ACT ACCORDINGLY. Discover acceptable solutions to the problem. The sooner you act on what you have researched, the more effectively you can  begin to deal with the problem and counter it. As soon as I researched toxins in our foods, and the benefits of going organic and vegetarian, I acted on it immediately. And my body began to feel much better as a result.

Personally, I have decided that in spite of the high cost of produce and getting organic food shipped in to Alaska, my health is worth EVERYTHING. Without your health, how can you successfully work or take care of others, as I do? To compromise my health due to higher food costs, would mean that later one I may pay a much higher price for the cost of medical treatment that I will need BECAUSE I neglected certain aspects of my health earlier. It is better to spend a little more for food that keeps me healthy! Especially living in this location where this health hazard is well known and widely reported on.

Also, I will be ordering specialized water filters that remove various toxins and even radiation from the water.  There are filters for showerheads in the bathroom, and filter to screw on for the kitchen and cooking purposes. The water supply coming to Kotzebue comes from the snow melting on distant mountains. Normally snow can be quite pristine.

However, with increasing evidence that nuclear radiation particles originating from Japan's FUKUSHIMA meltdown IS indeed coming to North America and affecting the food/water supplies, it is wise to search on the Internet for water filtering systems that can indeed remove harmful radiation (such as the BIG BERKEY water filtration systems for in home use). And because I am sensitive to chlorine and it's byproducts when added to the water (which it is here) I will ordering filters that also remove chlorine for both kitchen, bathroom and showerhead as well.

I personally recommend BIG BERKEY water filtration systems for the home. They are convenient, affordable, easy to use, and very effective in removing many chemicals and pollutants found in water today, including providing specialized filters that remove radiation from water as well.

In conclusion, yes, we are what we eat and drink! It is always wise to become informed, and to take precautions to protect our health. There IS hope for our health and the future when we before informed and then take the right precautions to protect BOTH.

Here's to the health of the great people of the Arctic circle!

With Russia only 87 miles away, I will also add, "Na Staroviyah" (to your health") as the Russians taught me to say.

-Pamela Rae Schuffert reporting from Kotzebue, AK

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