Heavy Metal and Radioactive Pollution from Phosphate Mining

Heavy Metal and Radioactive Pollution from Phosphate Mining 

There are 27 phosphate mines in Florida, covering more than 450,000 acres. These mining sites provide phosphate, a nutrient usually found in fertilizer for plant growth, and they also sell fluoride to local governments to put in your drinking water. Unlike pharmaceutical-grade fluoride in toothpaste, the fluoride in your water is an untreated industrial waste product.

Mining creates mountains of the waste left over from fertilizer production, known as gyp stacks. Some of that waste is radon and uranium. The EPA says it's too radioactive to be buried, so it's piled in these stacks, creating a toxic wasteland.  

Phosphate mining is a primary industry in Florida and a significant source of pollution. It's the state's largest generator of toxic waste. Some hazardous chemicals near these sites are uranium, radium, thorium, and lead. 

In 2017, homeowners filed a lawsuit in central Florida after discovering their homes were built on top of old mining sites. They found Gamma rays that can penetrate the body and increase the risk of certain cancers, including lymphomas, bone cancer, and leukemias. Decaying uranium from mining also releases radon, an odorless radiative gas linked to lung cancer. 

Phosphate mining pollutes our air, contaminates waterways, and destroys wildlife habitats. It's the state's largest generator of toxic waste.

There are different solutions to these growing issues, like limiting pollution at its source, better laws to protect the environment, and establishing limits on pollution that protect health. We can also take action through our personal choices by looking for non-toxic solutions.

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Stel Bailey

Stel Bailey, a cancer cluster survivor and environmental health advocate, is a researcher and journalist with more than two decades of multimedia experience, having been published globally.

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