Test Belledune soil for heavy metals: expert

CBC New Brunswick
Oct. 24, 2003


BELLEDUNE An expert on the health effects of lead contamination says it's time to assess the soil around Belledune for heavy metals.

The University of Florida's Dr. Elizabeth Gilette spoke to about 100 people at a public meeting in the industrial community Thursday.

The audience was rivetted as Gillette spoke about the health risks caused by lead and other contaminants.

Her message prompted people like Darlene Levine to wonder about the source of the community's health problems.

Levine lives within walking distance of Noranda's lead smelter. "All our children are sick, autism on our street, asthmatic problems, kidney problems, miscarriages, all that."

Levine suspects the illnesses are related to high levels of lead in the area, and she wants the soil in her yard and the children in her neighbourhood tested for lead. So do dozens of other villagers who attended the meeting.

Fears about lead contamination have grown so much that there will be a special council meeting next week to discuss the issue. Dr. Gillette told the crowd she'd like to come back. "I think it would be really interesting to do an assessment in this area," she says.

Gillette says work is already underway to arrange for her to do research in the area.