Tasmania’s water pollution is becoming a major problem for local residents and wildlife. A new study discovered that metal contamination in the state’s lakes are about as high as they get, raising concerns about the quality of water and food obtained from the region.

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The majority of the contamination can be traced to historic mining operations in Rosebery and Queenstown. The new study, which was conducted by the Australian National University, looked at six lakes in Tasmania, including Perched Lake, Lake Cygnus, Lake Dobson and Dove Lake, and found levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and copper.

Basin Lake and Owen Tarn had the highest levels of water pollution. The levels of contamination are bad enough to equal some of the highest contaminated waterways in the world, including Iran’s Shur River and Pakistan’s Kurang River.

“The levels of contamination are really, really high,” the lead scientist on the study, Larissa Schneider. “They need to do research to know what is happening to the fish and if it’s really high… people should not be eating it.”

Schneider compared the level of water pollution to what the United States has encountered in some areas of the country. In those cases, local fish populations were severely harmed by the pollutants, which is a major concern because the contamination levels in Tasmania are much higher.

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Scientists, for example, discovered an alarming amount of lead contamination in Dove Lake, which could affect native organisms.

The new research argues that the contaminates were spread via atmospheric transport. Mining operations in the 1930s used open cut mining, a popular practice until it was outlawed by the Environmental Protection Act in the 1970s.

Metal contaminates were discovered over 80 miles away from old mining locations, and some of the lakes are in mountainous regions. This suggests that they reached these bodies of water by passing through the air.

Will Hodgman, the premier of Tasmania, discussed the new findings and suggested a form of remediation on the part of government and private industries. The entity that looks after waterways, the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, has not commented on Tasmania’s water pollution levels.

Via The Guardian

Image via Wikipedia Commons