The identification of heavy metals such as mercury, and highly persistent lipophilic anthropogenic contaminants in the circumpolar food chain of all Arctic countries has raised awareness in wildlife scientists, and human health authorities on the need to better understand the possible climate-mediated influence on atmospheric and ocean transport mechanisms on the exposure of biota, including humans, in the Arctic. Certain contaminants are known to interfere with immune response in both humans and wildlife.
Researchers developed a village climate and health impact assessment tool; identified climate change vulnerabilities for the Native Village of Selawik and developed a climate adaptation strategy; developed biomonitoring tools to assess wildlife exposure to zoonotic pathogens and contaminants; created capacity in village residents to utilize these tools on hunter-killed wildlife; established laboratory support to analyze specimens obtained in village monitoring programs; and have encouraged the wide-spread adoption of these tools to create the Rural Alaska Monitoring Program (RAMP). The goals of RAMP are continuation of use of the traditional food species, information to reduce exposure to the existing and emerging zoonotic pathogens (zoonotic pathogens are microorganism causing diseases in animals which can also infect humans), reduction of exposure to contaminants, improved data for wildlife and human health authorities, and improved understanding on climate-influenced transport of contaminants and movement of zoonotic pathogens.
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