The metals that first attracted the mining industry to Flin Flon occur naturally in the area’s soils. Recent studies suggest that smelting and refining activities over the years may have gradually built up the naturally occurring metals in some areas to levels that are above the recommended soil quality guidelines for human health, as defined by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME.)
A 2007 report from Manitoba Conservation – called Concentrations of Metals and Other Elements in Surface Soils of Flin Flon, Manitoba and Creighton, Saskatchewan – showed elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, copper, mercury and selenium in some samples taken from surface soils in Flin Flon and Channing, Manitoba and in neighbouring Creighton, Saskatchewan. Past and present atmospheric emissions from Hudbay’s Flin Flon Metallurgical Complex are a potential source of these elevated levels.
Although Manitoba Conservation’s 2007 report concluded that there was no immediate risk to human health, they recommended further work to better understand any potential health risks for people living in and around Flin Flon, under certain exposure conditions. The Flin Flon Soil Study (Soil Study) was born of this recommendation.