An assessment of Cold Lake First Nations members’ exposure to metals through ingestion of moose tissues

Fiscal Year



Cold Lake First Nation, Alberta

Principal Investigator

Claire McAuley, M.Sc., Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc.

Community Project Lead

Darren Frederick

Project Members

Chris Akomolafe, Sarah Chileen, Findlay MacDermid and Keely Winnitoy



Project Summary

Cold Lake First Nations is largely centred on the Primrose Lake and Cold Lake watersheds and encompasses lands and waters within both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Community members expressed concerns about the quality of traditional foods harvested from the Nation’s traditional territory due to the impact  of the oil and gas industry in the area and the military activities at the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR).

In order to address the community concerns, samples of moose muscle and organs were analyzed for metal concentrations, including lead and cadmium. A dietary survey was used to determine local moose consumption patterns. Based on the collected data, a human health risk assessment (HHRA) was then conducted to assess potential health risks associated with the exposure to metals from the consumption of moose meat.

The study found that many of the metal concentrations in  samples of moose muscle were low and similar to levels in meats available in Canadian supermarkets. However, cadmium concentrations in some samples of moose organ meat were elevated. Cadmium tends to accumulate in  the kidney and liver over the animal’s lifetime. Therefore, the consumption of organ meat from younger animals is recommended over the consumption of organs from older animals. The study concluded that moose muscle was safe to eat in quantities recommended in the Canada Food Guide whereas moose organs should be consumed only occasionally and in moderate amounts.