Signs of mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows youth, say Japanese experts – by David Bruser and Jayme Poisson (Toronto Star – September 20, 2016)

The young generations of Grassy Narrows and another nearby First Nation community have a “surprisingly” high rate of mercury poisoning symptoms, according to leading Japanese researchers.

The research team, which examined dozens of people of all ages in both communities during a 2014 trip, found that nearly all those tested had sensory disturbance — a telltale sign of mercury poisoning that includes a loss of sensation in the hands or feet and around the mouth. That rate is “extremely high,” according to a report released by the researchers Tuesday.

“This is a new finding,” Dr. Masanori Hanada told the Star through a translator. “I think Canadian doctors and Canadian officials should start looking at (this issue).” His team is a world leader in the study of mercury poisoning.

Hanada, 64, and his team have been to Grassy Narrows and nearby Whitedog First Nation six times since 2004 and he said that federal and provincial officials have shown little interest in their work. The Japanese team funded its own research.

A Health Canada spokesperson told the Star that they have requested a copy of Hanada’s report and did not comment further. A provincial health ministry spokesperson said the government takes the mercury problem seriously and that a working group of community, provincial and federal representatives met with the doctor’s team in 2014.

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