The most comprehensive study undertaken on the concentration of mine contaminants in people living in the Yellowknife area shows contaminant levels similar to those found in Canadians generally.
“We don’t have any evidence or reason to be concerned about the immediate health effects that we see in other populations that have high levels, like India and Bangladesh,” said Dr. Laurie Chan, the University of Ottawa professor leading the study.
Researchers analyzed tongue swabs, toenail clippings and urine from 2,037 residents of Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah. They measured concentrations of arsenic, lead and cadmium. In adults, they found arsenic levels slightly lower than levels measured in Canadians generally. The levels in children were higher than in Canadian children generally, but not high enough to be a concern.
“Even though we see a range — some are higher some are lower — the range is similar to what we see in the Canadian general public,” said Chan.
The research project was a condition of the environmental approval of the cleanup of Giant Mine, one of two gold mines within city limits that operated for more than half a century. The federal government assumed responsibility for the $1-billion cleanup of Giant 20 years ago, when the last company to operate it went bankrupt.
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