Nuclear News

Locks hold key to uranium exposure

Written by  Tuesday, 02 February 2016 18:51
Rate this item
(0 votes)

AS UMESH Bhana was snipping customers' hair this week, he had a novel proposal for them: would they be willing to donate 4cm locks to be analysed for traces of uranium?

 

None of his clients at the Kut-loose hair and beauty salon in Lenasia said no. Bhana's salon is in one of eight mining areas deemed to be at risk of uranium pollution.

These include Azaadville, Kagiso Rietvallei- in the Upper Wonderfonteinspruit Catchment Area - Mindalore and Diepkloof in Soweto.

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment, under the supervision of North West University, is collecting hair samples from salons in these areas as part of a pioneering pilot study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organisation that researches the causes of cancer.

The agency is probing whether uranium pollution may be linked to the development of cancers in gold mining areas on the Witwatersrand. It aims to uncover whether uranium enters the body and reaches elevated levels that can be detected in hair samples.

"Hair is a good indicator of past contact with uranium," explains Dr Joachim Schuz, the agency's head of environment and radiation.

"The objective is to understand the exposure to uranium and its decay products of (people) living close to gold mine tailing dumps.

"These residue areas are often densely populated."

The problem of uranium contamination is huge: the Witwatersrand has 20 times more uranium dumps than the US and Canada combined. In Gauteng, more than 1.6 million people live next to toxic mine tailing dumps.

There has been little epidemiologic research into the exposure of these populations and their risk of cancer and other health outcomes, says Schuz.

"This pilot should be critical in opening the door to further research to assist governmental authorities in putting in place the best possible strategies to prevent uranium contamination in the affected areas."

The federation has so far collected 300 samples from the eight high-risk communities around Joburg.

Professor Frank Wintle, the head of the mine water research group at North West University; has developed maps to identify the areas in which ' people are likely to be exposed to high levels of uranium.

Mariette Liefferink, the federation's chief executive, says the study is long overdue. "There has been no causal link established between the anecdotal evidence of mental retardation, cancer, nephrotoxicity and the uniferous mine residual deposits in the Witwatersrand gold fields.

"There's an urgent and pressing need to establish, whether such a link exists . . . The pilot study will be of value only if the findings and recommendations are implemented in the service of society."

The control sites are salons in Laudium, Lenasia, Alexandra and Randburg.

At Hair Lusions in Ferndale, stylist Sharyn Goldman has collected 70 samples."It's a privilege to help humanity. Hair keeps everything that goes into the body- drugs, antibiotics. It's like rings on a tree."

MINING

It’s all about the money

The hazardous mining by-product raises two questions – who’s to blame and who should pay. The acid mine drainage crisis is going to cost someone a lot of money, but probably not the people who caused it. The “polluter pays” principle was next to impossible to apply to the acid mine drainage problem in a retrospective way, said Marius Keet, chief director for mine water management at the department of water and sanitation.

Down in the dumps, there's hope

"WHERE there's waste, there's opportunity," said mining hydrologist Kym Morton, ...

Fokus reports on Coal Mine east of Springs

SABC's Fokus of 23 July 2017 addresses the planned Palmietkuilen coal mine east ...

SA NEWS

Addressing waste and pollution of the past

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment is proud to announce the launch of the booklet titled “Rehabilitation of Mine Contaminated Eco-Systems. A Contribution to a Just Transition to a Low Carbon Economy to Combat Unemployment and Climate Change” by Mariette Liefferink of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE). The booklet was commissioned by the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) in collaboration with the Friedrick Ebert Stiftung.

Nuwe myn ‘sal duisende hul huise kos’

Byna 10 000 mense sal verskuif moet word as Anglo Operations Ltd en Canyon Coal hul sin kry om ’n massiewe oopgroefsteenkoolmyn oos van Springs te begin.

SA coal mines leave legacy of ruin

Johannesburg - A 19-month data investigation of mine closures indicates that since at least 2011 no large coal mines operating in South Africa have been granted closure.

Besoedelingklagte: Mynbase daag nie by hof op

Drie direkteure van die Blyvooruitzicht- en Village Main Reef-goudmyn buite ­Carletonville kan ’n boete van tot R10 miljoen of tien jaar tronkstraf opgelê word weens die beweerde besoedeling en agteruitgang van die omgewing.

WATER

Coalition defending Mpumalanga water source area

Last week, the coalition of eight civil society and community organisations that has been resisting the proposed coal mine inside a protected area and strategic water source area in Mpumalanga launched further proceedings in the Pretoria High Court.

Project to heal polluted river . System will·create stream·of jobs

THE POTENTIAL to create 100 climate jobs and to help : bring a "dead river syste...

'Mine Water can be treated, safe'

SOUTH Africans have to "change their mindsets" that they can't drink acid mine d...