Community members of the Swan River First Nation raised concerns about potential impacts of industrial development within the area, such as oil and gas activity, forestry and the Swan Hills Waste Treatment Centre, on the quality of their traditional foods, particularly moose. The objective of this study was to measure concentrations of organic contaminants and metals in moose tissues in the traditional land of Swan River First Nation.
Samples of moose muscle, heart, liver and kidney tissues were collected and analyzed for a suite of 31 metals, as well as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), dioxins and furans. A food frequency questionnaire was administered to determine moose consumption patterns among members of the community. Based on the dietary data and measured levels of contaminants in moose tissue, a human health risk assessment was conducted and benchmark daily consumption quantities that would be considered safe were calculated.
The results showed that the concentrations of metals and organic contaminants in moose muscle tissues were generally low and similar to those in meats available in Canadian supermarkets. However, cadmium levels in organ meat samples were elevated. Cadmium accumulates in the kidney and liver as animals get older; therefore, older adult animals tend to have higher cadmium concentrations than younger animals.
The study concluded that moose muscle and heart were safe to eat in all quantities reported in the study and even in excess of those amounts. However, moose kidney and liver should be eaten in smaller quantities because of their high cadmium concentrations. The consumption of organ meat from younger animals was recommended over the consumption of the organs of older animals.