Toxic contaminant levels found in Fort McMurray soil
It's hard to distinguish much in the ash. Washing machines, mattress coils. A child's bike. #ymm #ymmfire
Tests conducted over the past month reveal mounds of ash left behind by the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta. contain harmful levels of contaminants, causing officials to delay re-entry to some residents, the Globe and Mail reports.
Data obtained by the news agency shows the levels of benzene and arsenic in three neighbourhoods were 20 times higher than the safe limit, as per provincial government standards.
Nineteen different metals and compounds were present in higher than recommended limits, the Globe and Mail reports.
The tests, which were conducted six days before residents were allowed to return home, are behind the decision to delay re-entry for 2,000 residents living in the hardest-hit areas.
“In the heavily damaged neighbourhoods of Waterways, Abasand and Beacon Hill, testing has confirmed contaminants in the ash are at levels that make these neighbourhoods unsafe for occupation until debris can be cleared,” Karen Grimsrud, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, said in a statement.
“Ongoing monitoring of particulates in the air has found no evidence of movement of ash.”
For their tests, 85 samples were collected over a five-day period, mostly from residential areas.
The owners of more than 250 homes have been told to re-test their properties before permanently returning.
So far, more than 40,000 people have been allowed to return to Fort McMurray.
Researchers told the Globe residents can avoid much of the risk of the contaminants by not touching or inhaling any ash they come across.
Source: Globe and Mail