From the Provo Daily Herald:

The arsenic exposure risk in Fairfield is official, the health danger real.

Those who live in the Cedar Valley town stand a higher risk of getting some cancers, nerve damage and brain injury with exposure to contaminants from old mine tailings over an extended period of time, according to a new Utah study.

“I think this report will go a long way toward helping us get the visibility we need to get some help for this problem,” said Mayor Michael Burch at presentation of the study on Nov. 10 at the Historic Fairfield Schoolhouse.

Residents had some of their arsenic fears confirmed, other worries put to rest and questions answered by representatives from the Environmental Epidemiology Program and Utah Department of Environmental Quality as the agency representatives presented their public health assessment.

Fairfield residents anxiously looked at the map to identify their homes and farmlands and examined copies of the report at the town hall meeting.

Gardening, a popular pursuit in Fairfield, could potentially increase health risks both from exposure to the arsenic in the soil and from eating vegetables that have absorbed the arsenic in areas where the garden soil is contaminated. One of the community questionnaire tables showed that a majority of Fairfield residents have gardens, many watered with irrigation water, so it is important for residents to identify the properties and ditches where contamination levels are high.

“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 45. I’ve lived here all my life and can’t help but think that the contamination is a factor,” said David Hansen, Fairfield resident and avid gardener.

“I can’t make the statement that it’s a direct result, but I can say that, based on this assessment, there is a risk,” said Dr. Craig J. Dietrich, a Utah Department of Health toxicologist.

More.

Image from Flickr.

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