July 18, 2014 7:15 pm

Iqaluit women warned dump fire smoke poses risk to unborn children

A garbage dump fire smoulders across the bay from the town of Iqaluit, Nunavut, Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

IQALUIT, Nunavut – Women of child-bearing age in the capital of Nunavut are being warned to limit their exposure to smoke from a dump fire that’s been burning for nearly two months.

The Nunavut government put out a public health advisory on Friday with the new warning for women in Iqaluit.

It says new air quality data indicates the total level of dioxins and furans — toxic chemicals released when hazardous waste is burned — exceed the health standard set by Ontario.

The advisory says while long-term exposure to high levels of dioxins is known to increase cancer risk, the levels of dioxins observed in Iqaluit are far below the health standard for cancer.

But the warning for women of child-bearing age has been issued because the Nunavut government says there is a possible risk that dioxins above the standard may lead to decreased fertility in male offspring.

Last month, the Nunavut Health Department warned those with heart and lung disease, the elderly and the very young to stay indoors as much as possible, with the windows closed.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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