Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Environmental Health Sciences

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 27 pages) : black and white illustrations, black and white maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

David O Carpenter

Committee Members

Lawrence Schell, Edward Fitzgerald


Pesticides, Yupik Eskimos

Subject Categories

Environmental Health


St. Lawrence Island Alaska is located in the Bering Sea, only 36 miles from Siberia. The island is home to approximately 1600 Siberian Yupik residents, who rely heavily on subsistence hunting and gathering. There are two formerly used defense (FUD) sites on the island, one of which has been the subject of an approximate $110 million cleanup effort. Environmental monitoring suggests localized soil and watershed contamination with PCBs, organochlorine pesticides and heavy metals. Previous research suggests the site may be a source of PCB exposure for local residents. The primary aim of the study was to determine whether subsistence activities in close proximity to the FUD site may increase exposure to persistent organochlorine pesticides. Methods: A total of 71 serum samples were taken from volunteers that represented three geographic regions of the Island, and analyzed for 16 organochlorine pesticides using high resolution gas chromatography. Log-linear regression was used to identify whether geographic location predicted serum pesticide concentrations. The serum concentrations were lipid corrected. Results: Chlordane compounds, DDT compounds, mirex and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) were the most prevalent compounds and present at the highest concentrations in serum samples. Other organochlorine pesticides were not present in enough individuals to warrant statistical modeling. After controlling for age and sex, subsistence activities near the FUD site were associated with an increase in HCB (RR=1.60 95%CI 1.12, 2.28) as compared to residents of the farthest village from the site. There was a positive but non-significant relationship for sum-chlordane (RR=1.32 95%CI 0.89, 1.95) and sum-DDT (RR=1.36 95%CI 0.94, 1.96). There did not appear to be a relationship for mirex (RR=1.02 95%CI 0.70, 1.49). Larger sample sizes and detailed dietary information would clarify the role of military contamination. Conclusion: Contamination of the local environment near a former military site may increase exposure to select persistent organochlorine pesticides.