Limited data have been collected on the presence of contaminants in the Arctic terrestrial ecosystem, with the exception of radioactive fallout from atmospheric weapons testing. Although southern and temperate biological systems have largely cleansed themselves of radioactive fallout deposited during the 1950s and 1960s, Arctic environments have not. Lichens accumulate radioactivity more than many other plants because of their large surface area and long life span; the presence and persistence of radioisotopes in the Arctic is of concern because of the lichen----reindeer----human ecosystem. Effective biological half-life of cesium 137 is reckoned to be substantially less than its physical half-life. The database on organochlorines in Canadian Arctic terrestrial mammals and birds is very limited, but indications are that the air/plant/animal contaminant pathway is the major route of these compounds into the terrestrial food chain. For terrestrial herbivores, the most abundant organochlorine is usually hexachlorobenzene followed by hexachlorocyclohexane isomers. PCB accumulation favours the hexachlorobiphenyl, pentachlorobiphenyl and heptachlorobiphenyl homologous series. The concentrations of the various classes of organochlorine compounds are substantially lower in terrestrial herbivore tissues than in marine mammal tissues. PCBs and DDT are the most abundant residues in peregrine falcons (a terrestrial carnivore) reaching average levels of 9.2 and 10.4 micrograms.g-1, respectively, more than 10 times higher than other organochlorines and higher than in marine mammals, including the polar bear. Contaminants from local sources include metals from mining activities, hydrocarbons and waste drilling fluids from oil and gas exploration and production, wastes from DEW line sites, naturally occurring radionuclides associated with uranium mineralization, and smoke containing SO2 and H2SO4 aerosol from the Smoking Hills at Cape Bathurst, N.W.T.
Increased metal mining in the Arctic region has caused elevated loads of arsenic (As), antimony (Sb), nickel (Ni), and sulfate (SO42-) to recipient surface or groundwater systems. The need for cost-effective active and passive mine water treatment methods has also increased. Natural peatlands are commonly used as a final step for treatment of mining influenced water. However, their permanent retention of harmful substances is affected by influent concentrations and environmental conditions. The effects of dilution, pH, temperature, oxygen availability, and contaminant accumulation on retention and leaching of As, Sb, Ni, and sulfate from mine process water and drainage water obtained from treatment peatlands in Finnish Lapland were studied in batch sorption experiments, and discussed in context of field data and environmental impacts. The results, while demonstrating effectiveness of peat to remove the target contaminants from mine water, revealed the risk of leaching of As, Sb, and SO42- from treatment peatlands when diluted mine water was introduced. Sb was more readily leached compared to As while leaching of both was supported by higher pH of 9. No straightforward effect of temperature and oxygen availability in controlling removal and leaching was evident from the results. The results also showed that contaminant accumulation in treatment peatlands after long-term use can lead to decreased removal and escalated leaching of contaminants, with the effect being more pronounced for As and Ni.
Based on a multidimensional discriminant analysis of the clinical and physiological characteristics derived as a result of examination of 593 miners, classification functions were plotted, allowing the diagnosis of vibratory disease in the automatic mode by means of mathematic computations. Functional indicators of skin sensitivity, particularly vibratory, dynamometry, rheovasography and thermography of the hand and fingers, a "white spot" symptom, and characteristics derived on a mathematic analysis of heart rhythm were established to be informative for automated diagnosis. The diagnosis was found to be more accurate in case of using a two-stage variant of the discriminant analysis where the differentiation is first made between healthy workers and workers with a pathology, followed by the discrimination of the preclinical and clinical phase of the disease. The automated diagnostic system is demonstrated to compare very favourably with the conventional method of diagnosis.
Characteristics, frequency and distribution of vertebrogenic diseases involving cervico-brachial region were studied in more than 1,000 miners from asian North and East exposed to vibration. The data were compared with the results of examination of drivers. The investigation revealed a high level of vertebrogenic cervical pain and cervico-brachial pain in miners with a long length of service, especially in those suffering from vibration disease and frequent osteochondrosis manifestation in younger age, especially in subjects working beyond the Polar Circle. Occupational hazards are proved to play a leading role in the early development of vertebrogenic diseases, and vibration disease predisposes to such pathology. The results make possible to consider the vertebrogenic cervical pain and cervico-brachial pain as occupational diseases in young-aged workers with long length of service or evaluate such diseases as complications of vibration disease in individuals facing this occupational pathology.
The contributors review the peculiarities of modelling the labour regimen for the vibration-affected professions in the North-West, based on the dosage-related approach, inasmuch as the existing techniques of ore deposits elaboration (chamber-long face and magnification of ore), and the organization of pit works on cyclogrammes, did not allow a practical application of the labour regimen recommendations proposed by the USSR Ministry of Health.
The clinical and hygienic studies performed at the antimonite ore extraction mines in Yakutia revealed that the workers were exposed to high concentrations of polymetallic dusts, containing chromium dioxide, antimony, arsenic and their compounds. 11% of the workers exhibited dust bronchitis, changes in the blood and immune reactivity indices which were due to reactions of adaptation to the Far North climatic conditions and the occupational factors' toxic effects.
In the zinc, lead and silver ore mine of Maarmorilik, Greenland 1,061 episodes of illness in the first year of employment were studied in 421 persons. Despite the fact that about 80% of the employees were of Scandinavian origin, the patterns of illness were considerably different from the health problems in primary health care units in Denmark. Urogenital problems were the only group of illnesses representing overweight of multiple contact episodes. All other groups of diagnoses were dominated by episodes of single contact. Dental problems, traumatic and urogenital episodes appeared more frequently compared to Danish primary health care units. The lower frequency of traumatic episodes in women reflected their employment in service jobs only. Despite a health examination before employment the total amount of episodes of illness corresponded to that of primary health care units in Denmark, and the age specific contact rate for males was higher than in other morbidity studies from Greenland. Possible explanations were: sick leave required documentation of the doctor, the workload was heavy and prolonged, the spare time possibilities were few, the buildings were inadequate, the employees were isolated from their families for months and the consumption of alcohol was considerable. Because the doctor was the only person with health education in the mining village, knowledge about dental treatment and considerable experience in traumatology and diagnosis of venereal disease were necessary.
Studies of drilling and blasting method of copper and nickel ores extraction at underground Transpolar mines proved that the highest concentrations of dust appeared during dry drilling of vertical blast holes, work of scraper windlass, fragmentation of out-size blocks, preparation of concrete mixture. Presence of aggressive metals, especially nickel, in the ore dust is a main base for planned thorough investigations of fibrogenic, toxic and carcinogenic effects of copper and nickel ore dust, for more precise assessment of its MAC in the air of workplace. Two-step purification of exhaust gases appearing due to mining diesel machines is not quite efficient, as the concentrations of nitrogen oxides (assessed through nitrogen dioxide) continually exceeded the MAC.