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The Impact Of Mining Waste Disposal On The Environment

1470 words - 6 pages

With an increasing global demand for metals, mining corporations have to scale up their mining operations in order to meet that demand at the expense of the environment. The enormous demand originates from mining’s essential role in society to produce various products designed to benefit the populace. These products range from small handheld devices that aid in everyday life or large machines that supported the foundation of society. However, mining leads to a variety of byproducts that affect the environment, for better or for worse. These byproducts are often composed of chemicals and metals not seen in nature. Some chemicals do not pose any significant threat to the environment, while others are toxic to animals and plants and can take years to clean up.
Addressing the issue of regulating mining waste disposal is imperative due to the potential damage mining waste can cause to the environment. Mining waste are composed of undesirable heavy metals as well as solvents and compounds used to extract ores chemically. These chemicals are often not natural to the environment and can cause significant damage to various parts of the body. For example, the metals present in mining waste, such as arsenic, manganese, lead, and cadmium, have been shown to alter dopamine release in rats. The study, published in 1998, demonstrated that “rats exposed to mining waste released more dopamine, less DOPAC, and less HVA by about 15, 50, and 55 pentagram per microliter, respectively, compared to rats not exposed to mining waste when release [of dopamine] is stimulated” (Rodriguez, 489). It is important to notice that these metals only compose a fraction of mining wastes, and that mining industries produce more waste than what is exposed to the rats in the study. The exposure to such waste can lead to severe health issues and possibly death for many organisms that inhabit the polluted area.
To address this issue, regulations for mining activities must have new standards set forth by federal agencies, who have the impartiality and power to oversee mining sites. Many countries have public policies designed to regulate the treatment and the disposal of mining waste to minimize the harmful effects of mining pollutants. Despite governmental interventions, many areas, particularly bodies of water, are polluted with tailings, leachates, and other waste that originated from waste dumps. These wastes can impact the health of the local population, one example being the “ingestion of 610 micrograms of [cadmium] per week, exceeding the [Joint Food and Agricultural Organization/World Health Oranization Expert Committee on Food Additives]’s [Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake] standard of 420 micrograms per week” (Appleton, 209). The ingestion of large amounts of cadmium can result in cadmium poisoning, which can become a life threatening situation with a relatively small dose. In this research, the condition of governmental regulation regarding mining activities...

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