Re: Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink

Dr Maheswaran raised the concern of clean-water insecurity for the Indigenous peoples of Canada (BCMJ 2018;60:195). The effects include infections, mental and physical stress, diabetes, and dental caries.

Mr Mosa and Ms Duffin outlined the history of mercury poisoning of the Grassy Narrows First Nation along the English–Wabigoon river system in Ontario compared to an industrial incident in Minamata, Japan. The poisoning in Ontario was due to mercury contamination from a pulp and paper mill some 50 years ago.[1] The mercury levels downstream of the plant should have returned to normal by now; however, recent tests revealed much higher mercury levels downstream compared with upstream locations, from unknown sources.[2] The mercury poisoning continues to affect the health, economy, and culture of this Indigenous community.

Federal and provincial governments should act urgently to ensure Indigenous peoples have access to clean, safe drinking water wherever they live in Canada.
—H.C. George Wong, MD, FRCPC

This letter was submitted in response to “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.”


1.    Mosa A, Duffin J. The interwoven history of mercury poisoning in Ontario and Japan. CMAJ 2017;189:E213-215.

2.    Wong HCG. Mercury poisoning in the Grassy Narrows First Nation: History not completed. CMAJ 2017;189:E784.

H.C. George Wong, MD, FRCPC. Re: Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink. BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 7, September, 2018, Page(s) 344 - Letters.

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