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Expertise tailored to public needs

Ongoing contact between Group members and the public has spurred the Group to become involved in programs with a public interest focus such as St. Lawrence Vision 2000 and the federal Arctic Environmental Strategy (AES), which is assessing the exposure of aboriginal peoples in northern Canada to contaminants in the food chain. Much of the Group's strength and usefulness comes from the versatility of its members and the diversity of their undertakings, which have enabled them to develop expertise on such varied issues as indoor air quality, environmental emergencies, drinking water quality, contaminated soil, radiation, agricultural pollution, electromagnetic fields, and exposure to contaminants through swimming and food. Group members have also developed expertise in the areas of risk perception and communication, and geographic information systems. Key to their efforts are the toxicology, molecular biology, and geomatics laboratories, where they work to develop cutting edge techniques in biomarkers, biological monitoring of workers, and environment-related public health monitoring. These researchers frequently represent provincial or federal health authorities on official committees dealing with lead, mercury, asbestos, ultraviolet rays, contamination in the Arctic, drinking water, and other issues.

Under the Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program (AMAP), Health and Environment Group professionals and researchers are working closely with Danish, American, Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Finnish, and Russian researchers to examine the effect of pollution on the region's inhabitants. Members of the Group also participate in the deliberations of the International Joint Commission (Great Lakes and St. Lawrence), the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (NAFTA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and other offices of the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, they are actively involved in the International Program on Chemical Safety (IPCS) and PAHO's Regional Environmental Health Impact Assessment Program (2000-2010).

The Group, in conjunction with the Bermuda Biological Research Station (BBRS), is responsible for the health component of the Oceans and Human Health Program, which aims to set up a global network to monitor interactions between island and coastal-dwelling populations and the oceans they depend upon for their livelihood. The Primary Health Center in Nuuk, Greenland, is actively affiliated with this program. The Health and Environment Group has also concluded cooperation agreements with institutes and universities in Mexico and the Amazon basin.

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