National biomonitoring initiatives

Canadian Health Measures Survey

The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) is a national survey carried out by Statistics Canada, in collaboration with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, to collect information from Canadians about their health. The first cycle of this survey, which was conducted from 2007 to 2009, included a biomonitoring component to measure human levels of environmental chemicals in a sample that represents the overall Canadian population. The biomonitoring component of this survey is an important initiative under the Chemicals Management Plan.

Five thousand six hundred randomly selected Canadians between the ages of 6 and 79 years were tested at fifteen collection sites. Blood and urine specimens were collected from the participants and analyzed for a number of substances. One of the most important contributions of the CHMS will be to establish current population levels for a broad range of environmental chemicals. This will provide baseline data to track trends and to allow for comparisons with sub-populations in Canada and with other countries. The results will also help to focus future research efforts on the links between exposure and health, and provide information to guide action by governments. Data collection for the second cycle of the CHMS began in September 2009 and includes children as young as 3 years of age. Collection for the second cycle will be completed in 2011, and planning for future cycles is already underway.

For more detailed information please refer to Health Canada's Web page on Biomonitoring and the Canadian Health Measures Survey.

Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals

The Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) is a national five-year study that is recruiting approximately 2,000 pregnant women during the first trimester of pregnancy, who are then followed through pregnancy and up to eight weeks after birth. This study is measuring the extent to which pregnant women and their babies are exposed to environmental chemicals, assessing what pregnancy health risks, if any, are associated with exposure to heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and manganese), and measuring the levels of environmental chemicals and some of the beneficial components (nutritional and immune constituents) of breast milk.

The MIREC study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, and Health Canada. The Chemicals Management Plan supports this important initiative.

For more detailed information about the MIREC study please refer to the following website: MIREC.

Northern Contaminants Program (multi-partner, multi-year initiatives)

The Northern Contaminants Program was established in 1991 in response to concerns about human exposure to elevated levels of contaminants in wildlife species that are important to the traditional diets of northern Aboriginal peoples. The Program's key objective is to work towards reducing and, where possible, eliminating contaminants in traditional/country foods, while providing information that assists individuals and communities in making informed decisions about their food use. Biomonitoring and health outcomes studies continue to be undertaken to characterize human exposures to and the health impacts of environmental chemicals in the northern population.

The Chemicals Management Plan is enabling Health Canada to expand its human health component of the Northern Contaminants Program.

For more detailed information about the Northern Contaminants Program please refer to the following website: Northern Contaminants Program.

First Nations Biomonitoring Initiative (consultation phase)

A national health measures and biomonitoring survey of First Nations peoples on reserve is under development. The first two years of the program involve consultations with national and regional First Nations organizations to determine priorities and to develop suitable programs. This survey will be implemented through leadership and partnership with First Nations authorities and will be designed to complement other national health measures surveys. The methodology and instrument will be adapted for cultural appropriateness and safety.

Page details

Date modified: