Newly published research has found cancer-causing chemicals downwind from coal mines in southern British Columbia in concentrations that rival those next to oilsand mines.

The research, conducted by the Alberta government and the University of Alberta, studied the snowpack around four coal mines in British Columbia’s Elk Valley.

It says clear traces of coal dust found in Alberta and B.C. matched the profile of coal from the mines in patterns that suggest the dust was carried by wind.

The study says, as a result, snow in that area contains chemicals known as PACs in concentrations that exceed Alberta environmental guidelines.

Its conclusions come as Alberta’s energy regulator is planning hearings on a coal exploration project that could lead to an open-pit mine in the southern Rocky Mountains.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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