Mercury is a longstanding concern in Maritime Canada due to high levels of contamination in a number of fish and bird species. The recycled component of past releases of anthropogenic mercury may be a significant source of ongoing pollution in many areas. Historical information on mercury releases can be used to quantify past and present anthropogenic contamination. We present an inventory of historical mercury emissions from anthropogenic sources in Maritime Canada for the years 1800-1995. Long-term trends in mercury emissions and the significance of the cumulative burden of mercury released from local sources are discussed. Emissions are calculated using both historical monitoring data and the application of emission factors. The nature of current anthropogenic sources of mercury is quite different than it was several decades ago when many of the existing policies governing mercury pollution were created. Our inventory illustrates that many of the most significant sources in the past such as the chlor-alkali industry, paint containing mercury additives, and pharmaceuticals, have been largely phased out with fossil fuel combustion and waste disposal remaining as the most significant modern sources. Atmospheric emissions in Maritime Canada peaked in 1945 (> 1,750 kg year-1), and again between 1965 and 1970 (> 2,600 kg year-1). Cumulative releases of mercury from anthropogenic sources for the years 1800-1995 were between 115 and 259 t to the atmosphere alone, and 327-448 t when discharges to wastewater and effluents were included. Assuming that only 0.2% (Nriagu, 1994.) of these releases become part of the recycled fraction of current fluxes, we estimate that between 570 and 900 kg Hg year-1 is deposited in Maritime Canada from past anthropogenic sources. Modern sources within Maritime Canada contribute at least 405 kg year-1 to the total annual deposition of 1.71 t over the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, leaving approximately 735 kg year-1 from natural sources and long-range contamination. Further study is needed to verify these estimates and clarify the significance of natural and long-range sources of mercury in Maritime Canada.
Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, Queen's University, 36 Union St., Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada; Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 3651 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The controls on the mobility and fate of arsenic in lakes impacted by historical gold ore roasting in northern Canada have been examined. A detailed characterization of arsenic solid and aqueous phases in lake waters, lake sediments and sediment porewaters as well as surrounding soils was conducted in three small lakes (80 wt%) of arsenic is contained in the form of secondary sulphide precipitates, with iron oxy-hydroxides hosting a minimal amount of arsenic (
The membrane filter (MF) method for evaluating asbestos fibre concentrations was introduced in the 1960s. Before that time the midget impinger (MI) was used in North America, while the long running (LRTP) and regular thermal precipitator (TP) were used in the U.K. All studies from which estimates of long-term health risks can be derived (i.e. those with individual cumulative lifetime exposure estimates) were based on the now obsolete methods. The reliability of converting these indices of exposure to MF equivalent concentrations was reviewed. It was concluded that no overall single factor could be derived for the Quebec mining and milling industry. However, it has been possible to derive conversion factors at the individual mill and work area level. Applying these in one Quebec mortality study analysis based on all jobs held by persons in the cohort gave an overall MF/MI ratio of 3.6. An examination of the confidence intervals surrounding the Quebec data, ratios derived for other chrysotile mines by other investigators, and measurements of fibre concentrations in the 1970s suggest that this was probably not unreasonable. Side-by-side and other measurements were used to convert MI concentrations in the U.S. textile industry to MF fibre concentrations. While conversions involve considerable uncertainty, independent measurements of fibres in the lung tissues of workers from the U.S. textile plant and Quebec mills show that in lungs the ratios of the concentrations of chrysotile to those of tremolite are quite consistent with the ratio of assessed exposures to these fibres in the two industries. There is an apparently higher risk of mesothelioma in one Quebec mining area (Thetford Mines) than in another (Asbestos). A high concentration of fibrous tremolite has been found in the lungs of workers in Thetford. A method of evaluating the extent to which mesothelioma risk in the chrysotile mining industry might be explained by tremolite exposures was proposed. The slope of the lung cancer dose-response relationship for the textile industry is approximately 50 times that for the mining and milling industry. Available data on the length distributions of fibres from Quebec mines and mills (up to 5% > 5 microns) and the Charleston textile plant (up to 21% > 5 microns) and some marginal indication of longer fibres in tissues from Charleston workers suggest that further work specifically addressing differences in the size distributions of long fibres in these industries is needed.
Although wetlands have gained acceptance as important components of ecosystems in post-mining landscapes in the past decade, their roles in contaminant retention/removal have not been well integrated into the designing of restoration programs. This paper describes the integration of sediment microbial activities and natural precipitation processes, along with approaches to defining the contaminant load from the mine wastes. The contaminant removal rates, which can be expected by a wetland sediment, are summarized and how they need to be reflected in the wetland size required, and the carbon supply which is needed. Contaminant loading from mining wastes can be balanced by wetland ecological processes, including wetland primary production and microbial mineralization in the sediment. This ecological engineering approach is demonstrated using case studies on hard-rock mining waste in Canada.
Medical screening and biomedical monitoring violate individual rights. Such conflicts of right with right are acted upon synergistically by uncertainty which, in some important respects, increases rather than decreases as a result of research. Issues of rightness and wrongness, ethical issues, arise because the human beings who are subjects of medical screening and biological monitoring often have little or no option whether to be subjected to them. We identify issues of rightness and wrongness of biomedical surveillance for various purposes of occupational health and safety. We distinguish between social validity and scientific validity. We observe that principles are well established for scientific validity, but not for social validity. We support guidelines as a way forward.
The oil sands industry is rapidly expanding surface mining and bitumen extraction operations near the Athabasca River in northeastern Alberta, Canada. There are anecdotal comments that the fish from the Athabasca River have an off-taste, implying that the oil sands operations are the cause. This study was done to determine if the taste of wild fishes caught near the Athabasca oil sands was less preferred than the taste of fishes collected from two other river basins in Alberta. In blinded experiments, consumer sensory panels, of 40 to 44 participants, tasted steamed samples of each of three fish species (walleye (Sander vitreus), northern pike (Esox lucius), and lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis)) from three different sources in Alberta (the Athabasca River, Buck Lake, and McGregor Lake). Data analyses showed that there was no evidence from the consumer preference rankings that the taste of the fish from the Athabasca River was preferred less than the taste of fish from two other water bodies in Alberta.