Toxic Effects of Chronic Arsenicosis in Muskrats and Squirrels from Yellowknife

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: contaminants, mining impacts, arsenic, wildlife, metals, mammals

Principal Investigator: Amuno, Solomon A (2)
Licence Number: 16190
Organization: School of Environment and Sustainability
Licenced Year(s): 2017
Issued: Dec 08, 2017
Project Team: Som Niyogi (Collaborator, University of Saskatchewan)

Objective(s): To investigate the effects of chronic arsenic exposure on reproductive parameters of small mammals (muskrats and squirrels) inhabiting the vicinity of the Yellowknife area, near the Giant mine.

Project Description: The objectives of this research project are to:
1. investigate the effects of chronic arsenic exposure on reproductive parameters, specifically seminal and hormonal parameters including testicular pathology and os penis (baculum) morphology of small mammals (muskrats and squirrels) inhabiting the vicinity of the Yellowknife area, near the Giant mine, and in a reference location approximately 30-80 kilometres away from the study area in order to determine whether there is a difference between the two groups;
2. evaluate the neurological manifestation of chronic arsenicosis and trace metal exposure by measuring arsenic levels and trace metal concentration in the brain of small mammals, including oxidative stress, DNA damage and antioxidant capacity; and,
3. utilize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/computerized tomography (CT) to assess the prevalence and pattern of craniofacial abnormalities, including brain volume changes and parenchymal lesions in muskrats and squirrels from areas affected by geogenic and anthropogenic arsenic contamination in the Yellowknife area, and in reference areas without elevated levels of environmental contamination.

The research team would be working directly with local furbearer hunters in sampling different organ tissues of muskrats and squirrels harvested from the Yellowknife area, and in locations outside of the city. Tissues to be collected would include liver, kidney, testicles, full head, baculum, stomach content, nails, hair and blood.

This project will provide short term seasonal research opportunities for local youths and interested residents to participate in this study via sample collection. The results generated from this study would also provide important baseline information regarding the effects of arsenic and trace metal exposure in wild population of muskrats and squirrels from the Yellowknife area, which can help improve understanding of the overall health of wildlife in the study area.

The research team have been in consultation with the Yellowknives Dene First Nations and and North Slave Metis Alliance. The team plan to organize a research finding seminar to discuss progress of the studies and implication of research results.



The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from December 6, 2017 to December 31, 2017.