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Health Effects Associated with Inhalation of Airborne Arsenic Arising from Mining Operations

1
Faculty of Science, Federation University Australia, University Drive, Mt Helen, VIC 3350, Australia
2
Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Level 3, 207 Bouverie Street, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
3
Research and Innovation, Federation University Australia, University Drive, Mt Helen, VIC 3350, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 128-175; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences4030128
Received: 30 June 2014 / Revised: 25 July 2014 / Accepted: 29 July 2014 / Published: 13 August 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medical Geology: Impacts of the Natural Environment on Public Health)
Arsenic in dust and aerosol generated by mining, mineral processing and metallurgical extraction industries, is a serious threat to human populations throughout the world. Major sources of contamination include smelting operations, coal combustion, hard rock mining, as well as their associated waste products, including fly ash, mine wastes and tailings. The number of uncontained arsenic-rich mine waste sites throughout the world is of growing concern, as is the number of people at risk of exposure. Inhalation exposures to arsenic-bearing dusts and aerosol, in both occupational and environmental settings, have been definitively linked to increased systemic uptake, as well as carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health outcomes. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to identify human populations and sensitive sub-populations at risk of exposure, and to better understand the modes of action for pulmonary arsenic toxicity and carcinogenesis. In this paper we explore the contribution of smelting, coal combustion, hard rock mining and their associated waste products to atmospheric arsenic. We also report on the current understanding of the health effects of inhaled arsenic, citing results from various toxicological, biomedical and epidemiological studies. This review is particularly aimed at those researchers engaged in the distinct, but complementary areas of arsenic research within the multidisciplinary field of medical geology. View Full-Text
Keywords: aerosol; arsenic; coal; dust; epidemiology; cancer; mining; smelting; tailings aerosol; arsenic; coal; dust; epidemiology; cancer; mining; smelting; tailings
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Martin, R.; Dowling, K.; Pearce, D.; Sillitoe, J.; Florentine, S. Health Effects Associated with Inhalation of Airborne Arsenic Arising from Mining Operations. Geosciences 2014, 4, 128-175.

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