British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Assessment of arsenic exposure in a residential area located on mine tailing : a case study Wallin, R. J.; Hiller, Dave


During the 1950s to the early 1960s tailing from the Campbell Mine were deposited into an area that would eventually become the 6th/7th Street section of the Balmertown townsite. Investigation of the area in the early 1990s revealed that tailing containing arsenic minerals were underlying eleven homes. Many of the tailing samples collected contained total arsenic levels greater than 1000 mg/kg. In 1993 an arsenic exposure assessment was undertaken to determine the affect of the arsenic contained in the tailing on the health of residents in the study area. As an alternative to adopting default values for an EPA exposure model a comprehensive background database was developed. The data was used to undertake EPA exposure calculations and to perform a Monte Carlo analysis to estimate the potential range of exposures in the area. A separate urinalysis study was performed to validate the results of the exposure assessment. The results of the assessment indicated that the total lifetime exposure of arsenic to residents in the study area did not significantly increase due to the arsenic minerals in the tailing. The limited exposure was partially due to the low levels of arsenic in the identified exposure pathways for residents and the limited bioavailability of the arsenic in the mineral sulphide form. It was concluded that the arsenic minerals did not significantly increase the risk to human health and therefore the removal of the tailing and overlying soil was not required.

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