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Abstracts: ISEE 22nd Annual Conference, Seoul, Korea, 28 August–1 September 2010: Water Pollution - Exposure to Metals, Emerging and Remerging Diseases

Recreational Use of Acid Mine Pit Lakes

Heyworth, Jane1; Hinwood, Andrea2; Tanner, Helen2; McCullough, Clint2; Lund, Mark2

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doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000392611.18167.e3
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In recent years, both the mining industry and regulators have begun to recognize the importance of the environmental and social impacts of pit lakes formed through open cut mining. In the mining town of Collie, in south-western Australia, there are 15 pit lakes of which 3 are commonly used for recreational purposes including swimming, fishing, and boating.


A cross-sectional survey of community use of the lakes was undertaken. Questionnaires were mailed to 1200 randomly selected addresses in the Collie shire with an additional 170 questionnaires distributed to specific interest groups. Participants were asked about their uses of the lakes, frequency and duration of use, and any health symptoms experienced after use.


A total of 250 questionnaires were returned, 176 (15%) from the random mail out and 74 (43%) from the targeted mail out. More males responded than females and 63% were aged over 50 years. Three pit lakes were used for recreational purposes by 62% of respondents. Black Diamond Lake had the highest number of visitors (126 respondents) and was also the most frequently visited lake (10 visitor d/yr). Attendance at the lakes was seasonal with most visits occurring in the summer months. Swimming was the most common activity (2.5–2.9 hour per week) and time spent on other water-based activities ranged from 2.9 to 5.1 hour per week. In all, 52% of respondents using the lakes were concerned about lake water quality and 28% reported health effects with 22% experiencing sore eyes from a particular lake (Black Diamond). Of those who used the lakes, 24% used one or more lakes for fishing (marron) and 82% ate the seafood they caught.


These data and chemical and biological characteristics are being used in a preliminary assessment of the risks of recreational use of the pit lakes.

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