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HOME > HEALTH > NRBFCS > Nutrition

Assess the daily nutrient intakes of food energy ( calories) and nutrient of persons of various ages in relation to recommendations for health.

- Determine the importance of specific traditional foods according to their contribution of daily food intake

- Identify individuals at risk based on the analysis of their food consumption and contaminant information


In 2003, Albert Treaty 8 Health Authority set out to develop human health-based fish consumption guidelines for Treaty 8 First Nations people of Alberta. Golder Associates Ltd. (Golder) was retained to coordinate a fish sampling program in lakes within the Northern River Basins study area and to report the results of chemical analyses conducted on fish tissues. The next phase of the program will involve developing human health-based fish consumption guidelines based on fish tissue results and information obtained from a community food consumption survey. 

Seven waterbodies, representing traditional fishing areas for eight communities were selected for the study. Walleye, northern pike and lake whitefish were selected for analyses because they are consumed on a regular basis by members of the eight communities. The chemicals of concern included mercury, selenium, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans. Fish were collected from commercial fisheries, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) test-netting programs, and a gill netting program conducted by Golder. In total, 601 fish tissue samples were collected for mercury analyses and 84 samples were analyzed for selenium. Eight composite samples were collected for PCBs, dioxins, and furans analyses in East Basin Lesser Slave Lake; four composite samples were collected from two reference lakes, which included Utikuma Lake and North Wabasca Lake.


Concentrations of mercury ranged from 0.004 μg/g (wet weight) in lake whitefish fillet samples to 0.995 μg/g in walleye fillet samples. Piscivorous fish, or fish eating species ( i.e., walleye and northern pike) had higher mercury concentrations than bottom feeders, such as lake whitefish. Mercury concentrations in goldeye were intermediate between the piscivores and lake whitefish. Goldeye typically feed from the water surface, ingesting aquatic invertebrates, small fish, and the occasional rodent. 

Mercury concentrations in most fish tissue samples (95.8 %) were less than the federal consumption guideline of 0.5