Group worried about metals in Sudbury soil – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – November 23, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

A committee concerned about the health of Sudburians is calling on the government of Ontario to fill what it says is a gap in a study that looked at metals of concern in Sudbury’s air, water and soil.

Recommendations from the Sudbury Community Committee for Human and Environmental Health are the next logical step to the Sudbury Soils Study, says the committee and an environmental expert it commissioned to review the study.

The Sudbury Soils Study was a $15-million, eight-year study of the effects of a century of mining on the soil, air and water of the Sudbury Basin. The committee says the study didn’t consider an important factor relating to Sudburians’ health — the quality of the air inside their homes.

Scientific data collected for the study, conducted by the Sudbury Area Risk Assessment group, included indoor dust testing at 91 homes in five communities in Sudbury. That sampling showed, in many of those homes, levels of metals such as nickel and lead three to six times higher than concentrations those metals in soils in the areas.

The dust samples were collected in Falconbridge, Copper Cliff, Hanmer, Coniston and Sudbury Centre, some of which were dubbed hot spots because of smelting activities over the years.

The SARA Group didn’t consider indoor air quality as a pathway of exposure to metals in the human health risk assessment part of the soils study, said Inka Milewski — and it should have.

The senior adviser and director of Health Watch Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Milewski was commissioned by the committee to review those dust samples and other data, and identify next steps for action.

The committee is calling upon the province to take action on six recommendations.

A key recommendation calls for a guideline for safe levels of nickel dust in homes in Ontario.

The committee is also calling on the province to fund epidemiological studies of rates of cancer and other diseases in people who live in the hot spots identified in the soils study.

The results of the dust testing done for the Sudbury Soils Study were forwarded to the Sudbury & District Health Unit years ago.

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