Follow the dots: N.W.T. issues health advisory, new map showing arsenic levels in Yellowknife lakes – North

The N.W.T.’s chief public health officer has sent out a renewed health advisory about arsenic in lakes in the territory, particularly those near Giant and Con Mines.

Dr. Andre Corriveau is advising residents about “precautions they can take to avoid exposure to elevated arsenic levels found in some small lakes around sites of past industrial activity,” a news release said Tuesday.

The N.W.T. Department of Health and Social Services also released a new map showing arsenic levels in lakes and bodies of water around Yellowknife.

Corriveau told CBC that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources did a lot of testing on lakes this spring and the health department received results in the last few weeks.

“We have more up-to-date data on each of the lakes, and there’s a few smaller lakes that actually we didn’t have data before that have been added in.”

There are notable differences between the latest map and a map the department released in April 2017.

Lakes with green points: Arsenic levels are below Health Canada’s drinking guidelines; considered safe for swimming and fishing. Yellow points do not pose significant risk for arsenic-related health effects, safe for swimming and fishing. Lakes with orange, red or purple points: Avoid fishing, swimming, and harvesting berries, mushrooms and other edible plants within the immediate vicinity of these lakes. (N.W.T. Department of Health and Social Services)

Rat Lake and Meg Lake, both near Yellowknife’s Con Mine site, have now been identified with elevated arsenic levels. Rat Lake is noted with a red dot, at 100-499.9 parts per billion; Meg Lake is orange with 52-99.9 parts per billion.

Health Canada’s guidelines says less than 10 parts per billion is an acceptable standard for drinking water.

The public health advisory states that water should not be consumed in lakes noted with red, orange or purple dots.

“It is also recommended to avoid fishing, swimming, and harvesting berries,…

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