U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health
Mineral mining is an essential part of a healthy economy. U.S. mines produced an estimated $75.2 billion in nonfuel minerals during 2017 including industrial minerals, aggregates, and metals. The mining industry and government regulators work to prevent the release of contaminants such as metals into the environment from mining activities. With interdisciplinary scientists in our laboratories and field sites across the U.S., the Minerals Science Team team of the U.S. Geological Survey Environmental Health Mission Area works to understand the actual versus perceived health implications of mineral-resource development activities, including extraction, processing, and waste management. Based on our geological, geochemical, hydrological, and biological insights, our science can help anticipate where there is potential for mining-related health impacts, and, for sites where such potential exists, aid in the development of best mining practices that better prevent health impacts before they develop. Our scientific data also help separate natural background effects from mining-related effects on the health of humans, fish, and wildlife. For existing mining or mineral processing sites that are shown to have adverse health impacts, our science is used by land managers and other decision makers to identify where limited cleanup funding can be applied in order to achieve the greatest benefits and to measure cleanup success from a health perspective. With this information in hand, land managers, other decision makers, and the private sector are able to balance the societal need for minerals with further action, if any, to minimize health risks associated with mineral resource development.
Is Uranium in Water Resources near the Grand Canyon a Health Hazard?