Arctic Health Website Introduction

The Arctic Health website is a central source for information on diverse aspects of the Arctic environment and the health of northern peoples. The site gives access to evaluated health information from hundreds of local, state, national, and international agencies, as well as from professional societies and universities.

The Arctic-derived from arktos, the Greek word for bear-is a vast geographic region widely surrounding the North Pole. It encompasses all or portions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Indigenous peoples such as the Aleut, Inuit, and Saami number among its inhabitants, who must cope with extreme climatic conditions and a unique set of environmental and health challenges.

Threats from environmental contaminants-especially persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals, and their bioaccumulation in the food supply-are an important consideration for the dietary health of a population in which hunting and fishing are commonplace. The thinning of the ozone layer over the Northern Hemisphere poses increased risks for dermatological and ophthalmic problems, and emerging infectious diseases are an ever-present danger. In addition, cancer, liver disease, and alcoholism are among the prevalent chronic conditions affecting many arctic inhabitants.

The Arctic Health website is sponsored by the National Library of Medicine's Division of Specialized Information Services and maintained by the University of Alaska Anchorage's Alaska Medical Library.

Additional background information can be found at: