Medical Officer of Health Advises to Avoid Gold Tailings

first_imgNova Scotians are once again advised to stay away from gold mine tailings, as they may contain high levels of arsenic. Tailings are crushed stone and other waste produced in mining. The gold mine tailings are left from gold mining in the province in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since government’s first announcement in June, the Historic Gold Mines Advisory Committee is addressing new concerns about the recreational use of gold mine tailing sites in Montague, Halifax Co., and Goldenville, Guysborough Co. “We’ve learned that the soil arsenic levels are too high at these two sites,” said medical officer of health Dr. Ann Roberts. “We believe that, as they are now, these sites could present a health risk to Nova Scotians in contact with them, not just in the long-term, but through short-term exposure as well.” Most Nova Scotians probably have minimal exposure to tailings. However, the use of tailing sites for recreational activities makes conditions more dusty, increasing the risk of inhaling and swallowing soil. People, especially children, who spend a day on the tailings could take in amounts of arsenic that are higher than what is known to be safe. They should avoid open gold mine tailings. Normal habits like washing hands frequently, and before eating, also go a long way to protecting health. The two gold mine tailing sites are a priority because they are close to neighborhoods. Nearby residents have been informed of the risk. Signs will be posted around these sites to advise recreational users of the health risk and tell them not to use the sites. Risk may be reduced during the winter months because the ground freezes and is covered by snow. More investigation will be done as soon as possible to determine next steps and more information will be provided at that time. Until then, it is best to avoid these tailings. Information on gold mine tailings, including a map of gold mining districts, is available on the Department of Environment and Labour’s website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla/goldmines . Nova Scotians who have concerns about tailings can call the provincial public inquiries line at 902-424-5200 in Halifax Regional Municipality or toll-free at 1-800-670-4357. Calls will be directed to the appropriate federal or provincial agency for response.last_img

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