The Grassy Narrows First Nation has been exposed to very high concentrations of mercury from freshwater fish consumption, following the release of over 9 tons of mercury into their waters in the 1960's. Although some persons from Grassy Narrows receive compensation for “signs and symptoms similar to mercury poisoning”, based on 1985 guidelines, very few have undergone complete neurologic examinations, with therapeutic follow-up. Minamata Disease, a progressive neurological disorder resulting from high mercury concentrations in marine fish is well documented. But, unlike marine fish, freshwater fish do not have high concentrations of nutrients (selenium and omega-3 fatty acids), which counteract some of the effects of mercury. We have created a unique, merged database with historic longitudinal mercury biomarker data (blood, hair and cord blood), collected in Grassy Narrows between 1970 and 1997. The objectives of this study are to describe chronic health sequelae in relation to prenatal and cumulative post-natal mercury exposure from fresh-water fish consumption, with a view to developing diagnostic tools to describe the continuum of mercury related deficits and disorders and recommend appropriate therapeutic follow-up, based on a knowledge translation and exchange approach. A total of 176 persons from Grassy Narrows will undergo a general medical examination, a neurological examination and neuropsychological and neurophysiological tests. Persons who require further follow-up, including psychological assessment, will be referred. Blood will be sampled and analyzed for specific nutrients and disease indicators. The results, coupled to integrated knowledge translation and exchange, will allow us to: (i) develop a comprehensive and appropriate protocols for diagnosis of mercury poisoning; (ii) identify early signs and symptoms of mercury poisoning; (iii) propose adequate rehabilitative follow-up and care; (iv) alleviate some of the harmful consequences.

Chercheur principal

Myriam Fillion et Donna Mergler (UQAM)


Tanya Suvendrini Lena (The Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (Toronto) et Christopher Mushquash (Lakehead University)

Organisme subventionnaire

IRSC (Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada)


Project Grant: Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

Secteur de recherche

Santé et sécurité au travail


2019 - 2023

Montant accordé

1 216 352,00 $