Lead, mercury and pesticides can harm your health. Found at low levels in foods and consumer products we use, these toxins are absorbed into our bodies from the environment. They can stay there for long periods of time and pass from women to their unborn children, posing potential health risks. Women born and raised outside of Canada tend to have higher levels of contaminants in their bodies, according to previous national studies. A team of environmental health scientists at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) in collaboration with Health Canada, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities, as well as immigrant and women’s health community service organizations are conducting the “SEED Study” to investigate this important issue. They are looking to identify potential sources of exposure and how best to reduce them.
The SEED team, led by Dr Tom Kosatsky, Medical Director in Environmental Health Services at BCCDC, a provincial health monitoring, policy and research organization, is interested in providing newcomer South and East Asian women who moved to the Greater Vancouver area in the past 5 years from India, China, Hong Kong or Taiwan with their lead, mercury and pesticide exposure levels and an explanation of their possible health risks as well as ways to help mitigate these risks. All women who enroll in SEED complete an interview and health exam, receive their personal exposure levels and are reimbursed for their time. The interview includes questions about what we eat, what products we use, and what environmental exposures occurred over our lifetimes, including in our birth countries.
To date, nearly 150 women in Greater Vancouver area have participated, including from Abbotsford. Why are South Asian women getting involved? If toxin exposure levels are found to be high, the SEED Study physician guides women on what this means and what to do. This is especially important for our sisters, cousins, daughters and granddaughters who are interested in having children in future. Cash or a gift card is also provided. SEED is only going until January 31 , 2015. Call Navjot Randhawa, SEED Study interviewer, at 604-707-2529 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org (in English, Punjabi or Hindi) to participate. Or, go to the website: www.bccdc.ca/seedstudy to learn more.