University of Oulu

Hansen, M., Nøst, T., Heimstad, E., Evenset, A., Dudarev, A., Rautio, A., Myllynen, P., Dushkina, E., Jagodic, M., Christensen, G., Anda, E., Brustad, M., Sandanger, T. (2017) The Impact of a Nickel-Copper Smelter on Concentrations of Toxic Elements in Local Wild Food from the Norwegian, Finnish, and Russian Border Regions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14 (7), 694. doi:10.3390/ijerph14070694

The impact of a nickel-copper smelter on concentrations of toxic elements in local wild food from the Norwegian, Finnish, and Russian border regions

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Author: Hansen, Martine D.1; Nøst, Therese H.1,2; Heimstad, Eldbjørg S.2;
Organizations: 1Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT—The Arctic University of Norway
2NILU—Norwegian Institute for Air Research, The Fram Centre
3Akvaplan-niva, The Fram Centre
4Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics, UiT—The Arctic University of Norway
5Hygiene Department, Northwest Public Health Research Centre (NWPHRC)
6Arctic Health, Faculty of Medicine and Thule Institute, University of Oulu
7Northern Laboratory Centre NordLab
8Department of Environmental Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2017
Publish Date: 2017-09-19


Toxic elements emitted from the Pechenganickel complex on the Kola Peninsula have caused concern about potential effects on local wild food in the border regions between Norway, Finland and Russia. The aim of this study was to assess Ni, Cu, Co, As, Pb, Cd, and Hg concentrations in local wild foods from these border regions. During 2013–2014, we collected samples of different berry, mushroom, fish, and game species from sites at varying distances from the Ni-Cu smelter in all three border regions. Our results indicate that the Ni-Cu smelter is the main source of Ni, Co, and As in local wild foods, whereas the sources of Pb and Cd are more complex. We observed no consistent trends for Cu, one of the main toxic elements emitted by the Ni-Cu smelter; nor did we find any trend for Hg in wild food. Concentrations of all investigated toxic elements were highest in mushrooms, except for Hg, which was highest in fish. EU maximum levels of Pb, Cd, and Hg were exceeded in some samples, but most had levels considered safe for human consumption. No international thresholds exist for the other elements under study.

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Series: International journal of environmental research and public health
ISSN: 1661-7827
ISSN-E: 1660-4601
ISSN-L: 1661-7827
Volume: 14
Issue: 7
Article number: 694
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph14070694
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: This project received financial support from the Kolarctic ENPI CBC 2007–2013 Programme projects “Food and Health Security in the Norwegian, Russian and Finnish border regions: linking local industries, communities and socio-economic impacts” and “Trilateral Cooperation on Environmental Challenges in the joint Border Area”, The Troms County Council, the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment through the Fram Centre Flagship research programme “Hazardous substances”, and institutional contributions.
Dataset Reference: The following are available online at, Figure S1: Concentration (mg/kg w.w.) of toxic elements in lingonberries, Figure S2: Concentration (mg/kg w.w.) of toxic elements in crowberries, Figure S3: Concentration of toxic elements in mushrooms (Leccinum genus), Figure S4: Principal component biplots, Table S1: Concentration (mg/kg w.w.) of toxic elements in berries, mushrooms, fish, reindeer, and moose, Table S2: European Union maximum levels for toxic elements and food items compared with results from the present study.
Copyright information: © 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (