Food Issues in Environmental Impact Assessments
Mining Rocks! CIM Toronto 2005
Risk assessments of contaminant levels in foods from a human health perspective are an integral part of environmental impact assessments. Country foods can potentially become contaminated due to activities associated with development projects, such as mining projects.
A standardized procedure has been developed for risk assessment in regard to contaminants in country foods. This standardized risk assessment involves collecting analytical data consisting of the levels of contaminants in country foods harvested from the project area. Examples of potential contaminants due to mining projects are discussed.
Contaminants of potential concern must be identified based on feasible exposure pathways. Toxicity reference values for the contaminants are required as well as food consumption information.
Post development monitoring of contaminant levels in foods is essential. Acquiring background levels of contaminants in the foods before the project starts is necessary to determine the impact of the project activities on the contamination of country foods.
Based on the analytical data collected for contaminant levels in foods for these studies, risk assessments can be undertaken. Recommendations can be provided to protect the health of local residents, based on the results of these risk assessments and the monitoring studies conducted.