Assessment of organochlorines and metal levels in Canadian arctic fox

Updated 2015-09-10

1) To determine tissue residue levels of organochlorines and metals in arctic fox feeding in or near an arctic coastal environment. 2) To assess whether or not residue levels found in arctic fox pose a potential wildlife health risk. 3) As part of a pilot project, to determine residue levels and assess potential wildlife health risk to wolverines feeding in or near a coastal environment.

This is not a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project

Time frame

Project time span
2000 - 2003
Data collection
2000 - 2001
Data processing
2000 - 2002
Data reporting
2001 - 2003

Contact information

Contact person
Birgit Braune
Environment Canada National Wildlife Research Centre Carleton University (Raven Road) Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0H3
+1 613 998-6694
+1 613 998-0458
Other project contacts
Derek Muir National Water Research Institute Environment Canada Burlington, Ontario Canada Ph: (905) 319-6921, Fax: (905) 336-6430, E-mail: Brett Elkin Wildlife & Fisheries Division Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Resources, Wildlife & Economic Development Yellowknife, Northwest Territories Ph: (867) 873-7761, Fax: (867) 873-0293, E-mail:

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Heavy metals
Other metals/elements
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Terrestrial mammals
Additional information or further specification of types of data / information collected, species / tissues / organs sampled, etc.

Livers and kidneys of arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) and wolverine (Gulo gulo) will be analyzed for PCBs including coplanar PCBs, organochlorines, mercury selenium, silver and cadmium. Age, sex and pathological information will also be collected.


Regions studied
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Stations or areas where observations are made

Holman Island (arctic fox) Baker Lake (arctic fox) Arviat (arctic fox) Coppermine (wolverine)

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
If no (or only part of data are reported to a TDC), where and how are (other) data stored?
Data are archived in Excel spreadsheet format and will be made available to the AMAP via the designated Canadian experts
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Hoekstra et al. 2003. Organochlorine contaminant and stable isotope profiles in arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) from the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic. Environmental Pollution, 122: 423-433. Hoekstra et al. 2003. Concentrations of selected essential and non-essential elements in arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) and wolverines (Gulo gulo) from the Canadian Arctic. Science of the Total Environment, 309: 81-92.
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?
Specimen banking information

Samples are archived in the National Wildlife Specimen Bank at the National Wildlife Research Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, for an indeterminate period of time. Sample homogenates are stored in both glass and polypropylene vials at -40°C.

Methods & Procedures

Procedures and methodology used for, e.g., sampling and sample storage, sample pretreatment, extraction and analysis, including which laboratories are involved, references to methods employed, etc.

All samples are handled according to Canadian Wildlife Service protocols. These are available upon request. Metal analyses (ICP-MS, Hg, Cd) will be carried out at Philip Laboratories, NS. QA/QC for metal results will be handled by NWRC. PCB (ortho-substituted) and organochlorine pesticides (including total toxaphene and congeners) analyses will be carried out at NWRI (NLET) laboratories in Burlington, Ontario. Coplanar PCBs will be determined by the lab of M. LeBeuf (DFO, Mont Joli) on extracts prepared by NWRI. Stable C and N isotope analyses will be carried out by NWRI Saskatoon (Len Wassaaner) at the Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK. Sulfur 34 isotope ratios will be determined at the Department of Earth Science, University of Waterloo.

QA/QC Information (what QA/QC procedures are implemented, laboratories involvment in QA/QC activities, model verification/validation routines, etc.)

Both NWRC and NWRI laboratories have participated in the Northern Contaminants (NCP) QA/QC Program. The NWRI/NLET has also recently participated in the QUASIMEME international interlab study on PCBs and toxaphene in biological samples and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) interlab study on PCBs in marine mammal blubber. The NWRC laboratory has also participated in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's interlaboratory program on mercury in fish.

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

GNWT Wildlife & Fisheries Division Nunavut Dept. Sustainable Development Dept. of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan Dept. of Earth Science, University of Waterloo

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

Canadian Northern Contaminants Program

Indigenous AND traditional knowledge used in this project

Both the foxes and wolverines are being obtained from community hunters. Hunters are also being asked of their knowledge of fox diet in their area.

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