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Ajax would make 'low-grade smokers out of children'

The Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment feel the proposed Ajax mine is too close to the city and will cause a lot of health issues for residents.
June 28, 2013 - 1:46 PM

KAMLOOPS – Air pollution is a big concern for the health of the community according to a group of local doctors who say the extra pollution the proposed Ajax mine would bring into the community is unacceptable.

“People need to know the impact on health is like smoking constantly, 24 hours a day. You can't get away from it,” Dr. Twila Burgmann says. “You are making a low-grade smoker out of children.”

Burgmann started the doctor coalition after realizing the interest was there among her peers to take a stand and offer their professional opinions in an organized and united way. She presented several points about air pollution from mines brought up by Dr . Brian Moench of Utah in March and by the end of the quarterly staff meeting about 30 people had signed up to be part of the group.

Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment has more than doubled in support and as of earlier this week had 66 medical professionals willing to put their names behind the group advocating for a healthy environment. After taking several weeks to collect information they officially launched their website earlier this month.

Burgmann and Dr. Jill Calder say their hope is to educate the public so the right decisions can be made for the community.

The physicians join several other groups already advocating for a healthy environment, and as a result for the Ajax mine to not be approved. The Kamloops and Area Preservation Society, Kamloops Moms for Clean Air and the Community Advisory Group have already made their feelings over the proposed mine clear and while the groups interests and members do overlap Burgmann says as doctors they have the science to speak up against it.

Science shows it is cheaper to implement processes to reduce air pollution than it is to treat the health issues that result from the pollution. There is a huge health impact and the science shows some very disturbing facts, the duo says.

The doctors say the literature on air pollution is strong, it shows a very tight correlation between health issues and mortality when air pollution increases. The group has been working hard to make sure these studies are accessible to the public in an easy to understand format.

They have chosen to focus on air quality first, but will move into ground and water pollution as they have time to vet through all the studies that are out there. They want to be sure they can stand behind any statements or studies they post, which has made the process of finding studies to share a bit slower.

The group is also worried the existing rules around mining and the environmental assessment process were never designed for an urban mine, Calder and Burgmann point out.

“We want a process that will give us real data,” Calder says, “the current process is not doing what it should to protect us.”

Burgmann says her biggest concern over the mine is the proximity of the mine to Kamloops and how much more of an environmental impact that will have.

“We're not anti-mine. But one has to question when putting it right next to an existing population.” she says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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