E-mail This Article

Homegrown veggies safe

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jun 27/01) - Vegetables from Yellowknife gardens contain 10 times the arsenic of vegetables grown elsewhere in Canada, but eating those vegetables poses little if any risk, a new study concludes.

"Even the vegetables at the (Giant) townsite garden are safe to consume," said Ken Reimer, head of the Royal Military College's environmental sciences group, which prepared the report.

The report is based on analysis of produce taken from 10 gardens in Yellowknife. Based on soil sampling done by the college, the gardens represented a wide range of arsenic contamination, from very low levels in the Range Lake area to very high levels at the Giant mine townsite.

Analysis of the soil revealed the vegetables play more of a factor than the soil they grow in in determining how much arsenic they absorb.

"We found most of the plants control intake of arsenic very carefully," Reimer said.

The analysis assumed, Reimer said, the arsenic in the vegetables was inorganic. Inorganic arsenic, which includes arsenic trioxide, is far more toxic than organic arsenic, which includes the kind of arsenic found in high quantities in seafood.

The report relied on recommended maximum daily intake levels established by the World Health Organization.

The Royal Military College's next study of arsenic contamination will be an assessment of the risk to human health arsenic poses.

Research will focus on how much of arsenic that is consumed is absorbed by the human body.