Dump smoke could still harm unborn babies: health advisory

The latest government advisory says dioxin and furan levels are still above Ontario standards and women in Iqaluit, who are pregnant or might become pregnant, should stay inside with doors and windows shut whenever smoke blows into the city.

Latest round of air quality tests show dioxin levels still higher than Ontario standards

The Government of Nunavut is still telling pregnant women in Iqaluit to stay away from smoke from the ongoing fire at the city's dump. 

The latest round of air quality tests monitored toxin levels, up until Monday. A health advisory released Thursday says conditions remain unchanged from tests two weeks ago. 

According to those tests, the level of dioxins and furans continue to be above the health standard set by Ontario. According to information released by the territory, the standard level is 0.1 pg/m3 (picograms per cubic metre), while the average level over 24 hours in Iqaluit is 0.2 pg/m3. 

At these levels, health officials say there could be a risk of fertility problems in unborn male offspring, but the government maintains that the risks are still low. 

On July 20, an advisory called for all "women of child-bearing age" to keep out of the dump smoke. The latest advice from the territory narrows this down, since the danger is only to women who are pregnant, or become pregnant  "while the dump fire is burning."

The elderly, young children and people with heart and lung disease or asthma should also take precautions. 

People in those groups could become wheezy, short of breath, light-headed or dizzy. If they can't handle those symptoms of their own, health officials say they should get medical attention. 

The advisory says levels of other toxins don't pose a health risk.