Étudiant-chercheur étoile July 2013

Olivier Boucher

PhD student in Psychology
Université Laval

Award-winning publication: Prenatal MeHg, postnatal Pb exposure, and evidence of ADHD among Inuit children in Arctic Québec

Published in: Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(10), 1456-61.1658-63.


"My study is the first to demonstrate a link between prenatal exposure to methylmercury (MeHg) and evidence of behavioural problems in children exposed to doses that do not give rise to clinical toxicity syndromes. The data supports the hypothesis that prenatal MeHg exposure caused by a maternal diet high in marine mammals and fish during pregnancy is associated with long-lasting damaging impacts on brain development. My work also corroborates the results of a broader study that revealed the effects of prenatal MeHg exposure on cognitive task performance. In addition, for the very first time, the study replicated the results of research suggesting a link between lead exposure and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a population exposed through diet."

Taking the scientific evidence into consideration, the results of Olivier Boucher's study support public health recommendations aiming to reduce the dietary intake of MeHg in women of childbearing age, especially in the highly exposed Inuit population. In addition, the results on lead exposure validate the efforts to ban lead shots for small game hunting. Finally, the study will help establish international measures to reduce mercury emissions in the environment.