As the Iqaluit dump fire continues to belch out smoke and dust, one pregnant mother says she’s had enough. Julie Alivaktuk, who is expecting her first born within the next 10 days, is worried about the damaging effects that the chemical-filled dump fire smoke might have on her newborn. “I don’t want my baby to breathe that for its first breath of life,” Alivaktuk said.
On July 3, Alivaktuk donned a surgical mask and posed in front of the smouldering dump’s ground zero area with a message on her hand written in syllabics. “Taima,” the message reads. “Stop. Enough,” Alivaktuk said. The message is simple, Alivaktuk said: the city needs to put the fire out. “We feel strongly about it. We want people to know what’s going on. And I think other people feel the same way. So we feel we’ve given a voice to other people.”
The smoke may have an impact on people with heart or lung disease, as well as the elderly, young people, and pregnant woman, a PSA from local government said. It warned that “vulnerable” people should stay indoors when the smoke blows into town. Although it’s unknown exactly what chemicals are in the dump fire smoke, a landfill fire expert Dr. Tony Sperling said he reckons there are “nasties” contained therein. Others say the smoke could contain cancerous chemicals such as furans and dioxins.