Russians to take part in contaminant monitoring

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

A program that monitors pregnant mothers and newborns in the Aleutian Islands for environmental contaminants will be extended to the Russian islands at the end of the chain, reports the Anchorage Daily News.

Currently, voluntary tests are offered in five Aleutian villages. Blood and urine samples are collected from pregnant mothers and then checked for organic pollutants like PCBs and pesticides, heavy metals and radioactivity.

The levels of contaminants found appears to increase the further out on the chain a village is located, although, so far, researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint the source or sources of these pollutants.

Aleuts in Alaska and Russia share a history and family lines and still speak a similar dialect. The Russian American Co. settled the Aleutians in the 1800s to harvest seals.

Though the islands are only a few hundred miles apart, travel between the Alaskan and Russian islands involves tens of thousands of miles of transportation to cities with airports and customs offices and expensive visas.

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