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The Seed Study

The SEED Study investigates sources of heavy metals and other environmental chemical exposures among women new to Canada from India, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.


Thanks to the 150 women who participated! 

Study purpose & aims

The SEED Study investigates sources of heavy metals and other environmental chemical exposures among women new to Canada from India, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

It aims to find out if body levels of heavy metals and other environmental chemicals are higher in these women and to find out, if they are higher, why are they higher? 

Women in the study with chemical levels of concern will be guided on how to lower them.

Heavy metals

Heavy metals (such as lead, mercury, cadmium) can be found at low levels in some products you use in your everyday life as well as in foods you eat. They are found at low levels in everyone’s bodies and may build-up over time.

There are risks to babies’ growth and development when these chemical pass through the mother’s blood to her baby during pregnancy.

Lead: May be found in old paint, construction, lead-acid batteries, bullets, shots and fish weights.

Mercury: May be found in certain fish and shellfish species, cinnabar (in Vermillion) and other personal care and medicinal products, and older dental amalgams. 

Cadmium: May be found in nickel-cadmium batteries, electroplating, industrial paints, and is used in construction and agricultural industries. 

Printable postcards

Printable postcards about the study are available in several languages.



You may be eligible to participate if you:

  • Are a woman aged 19 – 45 living in the Greater Vancouver area
  • Arrived directly from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or India less than 5 years ago
  • Speak English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi or Punjabi    

Benefits of participating 

If eligible, you will be compensated $50 for participating in our 1.5 hour in-person interview and for providing a blood and urine sample. You may also request to receive your personal blood heavy metal test results.

Study leaders


Tom Kosatsky 

The Principal Investigator of the study and the Medical Director of Environmental Health Services at British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), he obtained his BA and MD from the University of Manitoba and completed a Family Practice Residency at Memorial University (Newfoundland) and occupational medicine certification at the University of Dundee (Scotland). Dr Kosatsky’s hobbies include art, travel, and hiking.   

Linda Dix-Cooper 

Also in Environmental Health Services at the BCCDC, she is a Perinatal Environmental Health Scientist and the study lead. Linda completed her undergraduate degree at Yale University and her MSc in Global Environmental Health and Development at UC Berkeley.  Inquisitive by nature, Linda builds high quality evidence to inform initiatives protective of children’s environmental health. Linda enjoys trail running, water sports, and spending time with friends.   


Natalie Cheng

A multilingual research assistant / interviewer,  Natalie graduated from University of British Columbia, majoring in Psychology. Previously, she worked in COPD and smoking research on several community health studies in BC. She would like to pursue a career in health research.  Natalie is interested in ethnic research, playing with her cat and traveling.  

Navjot Randhawa

A multilingual research interviewer/assistant, she has a Masters in Chemistry and Associate Certificate in Clinical Research. She is an experienced researcher having worked on a variety of clinical drug trials in BC including COPD, smoking cessation and ACS. She is passionate about advancing career in clinical research and making a difference in people's lives. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with very active family, studying culinary arts and travelling.


James Lu, MD, Medical Health Officer: Vancouver Coastal Health Authority 

Victoria Lee, MD, Acting Chief Medical Health Officer:  Fraser Health Authority


A parallel study is being conducted in the Greater Toronto area by researchers at the University of Toronto and Toronto Public Health.


Health Canada & BCCDC

Funding for the SEED Study is provided (in part) by Health Canada and the BC Ministry of Health and the BCCDC (for metals and other environmental chemicals).

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