Risks and costs to human health of sulfide-ore mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Jennifer Pearson, John Ipsen, Steven Sutherland, Kristan Wegerson, Emily Onello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Sulfide-ore copper nickel (SOCN) mining is being considered in water-rich Minnesota. Given pollution resulting from SOCN mining elsewhere, careful scrutiny is necessary examining the risks associated. Health considerations of mining within the Rainy River Watershed, the geographic region at the headwaters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), Ontario’s Quetico Park (Quetico), and Voyageurs National Park (VNP) are examined. This discussion considers toxins released from SOCN mining, examines data regarding degradation of water quality and deleterious environmental impact from SOCN mining elsewhere, considers the most vulnerable populations, and recognizes the broader effects to public health as well as benefits of existing wilderness. Recent federal decisions to reinstate mineral leases and abort the environmental assessment process have placed this unique and irreplaceable region of our country at substantial risk. The overall health and wellness of this region will very likely be negatively affected by SOCN mining, and economic costs will predictably outweigh benefits. In addition, negative impacts on water, fish and wild rice will likely degrade nutritional and tribal resources resulting in violation of usufructuary rights of tribal communities.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalHuman and Ecological Risk Assessment (HERA)
StatePublished - 2019


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