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Arsenic in Soils

Arsenic is a natural occurring element that is found in rocks.

Is arsenic a health hazard?
L
ong term exposure may increase risk of certain types of cancers and changes to skin pigmentation. Short term exposure to very high levels of arsenic can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, skin rash, and numbness.

Since the 1920's, a waste product of gold mining (called tailings) has been deposited throughout the Red Lake area and these tailings or 'slimes' can have elevated levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, antimony or cadmium.

People living in the area could be exposed to these metals if they come in contact with the tailings. Exposure generally occurs by ingestion of soil or dust, and the amount of heavy metals taken up in this way is very small. Preschool children may swallow more soil and dust than people in other age groups as they have close contact with soil and dust when they play and tend to put hands and other items in their mouths more often.
  
Tips to protect your family:
  • Don't let children play in tailings areas.
  • Don't use tailings sites for biking or other recreational activities.
  • Don't use tailings as fill for driveways, gardens, or children's sand boxes
  • Cover contaminated soil with a layer of clean topsoil and grass or paving stones.
  • Remove shoes after being outdoors so soil won't be tracked into the house.
  • Wash hands frequently and before eating.
  • Brush pets often; especially after they have been exposed to soil and dust.
  • Do not growing root vegetables in tailings or eating root vegetables grown in tailings.

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