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The influence of Kostomuksha mining plant on human environment in the boundary region
Start date: Nov 30, 2006, End date: Dec 30, 2007 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The mining centre of Kostomuksha is one of the worst air polluters in the proximity of Finland. The sulphur emissions of Kostomuksha make up about a third of the sulphur emission of Finland as a whole. Already at the start of the 1990s, increased metal concentrations were observed in moss samples taken from the Kuhmo area. On the other hand, there has been no research on the atmospheric emissions of small particle and Polycyclic Aromatic Carbohydrate combinations. There was also need for research information on the transmission of the aforementioned substances to the ground and water system and subsequently to food products for humans. It is estimated that atmospheric small particles cause as many premature fatalities in Finland every year as traffic accidents; the toxicity of heavy metal compounds has been known for a long time. Polycyclic Aromatic Carbohydrate combinations, on the other hand, are carcinogenic. Wild berries and mushrooms have through the ages been an important part of the business and food industries of Kainuu and Russian Karelia. Collecting wild produce has increased further over the past years also in Russia, and berry retailers, among others, have purchased significant amounts of berries from Kostomuksha. It is of utmost importance to ensure that natural produce contains as few heavy metal compounds as possible, thereby guaranteeing the health and well being of the local population in the future as well. The purpose of the project was to track the atmospheric transmission of the said emissions, particularly of small particles, heavy metal compounds and Polycyclic Aromatic Carbohydrate combinations, across the border to Kainuu and the effects of the emissions on humans and the nature of the border areas. Achievements: The project researched the atmospheric emissions of Kostomuksha, their transmission and fallout and effects on the water and ground environment. The Finnish Meteorological Institute performed continuous measurements of small particle amounts in the border region and took samples of them for laboratory analyses. The concentrations from the samples were analysed for heavy metal compounds and Polycyclic Aromatic Carbohydrate combinations. The fallout samples were similarly analysed for their transmission to ground and water environments. The Finnish Meteorological Institute also completed diffusion model calculations about the transmission of emissions in the atmosphere. The Kainuu Regional Environment Centre participated in the upkeep of calculations and acquired emission details from Kostomuksha. The Laboratory of Radiochemistry of the University of Helsinki took sediment samples from the lakes in the area on both sides of the border and did a profile analysis of their heavy metal compounds. The sediments were dated according to their Lead 210 and Cesium 137 concentrations. In cooperation with the Kainuu Regional Environment Centre, the Finnish Forest Research Institute collected mushroom, berry and soil samples from the area and analysed their heavy metal concentrations. According to the results, the concentrations in the water systems, berries and edible mushrooms are very small, and the emissions of Kostomuksha therefore do not cause a threat to the health or livelihoods of the people of Kainuu. The entire research report of the project and impact of the Kostomuksha mining plant on the human environment at the Finnish-Russian border, can be found on the web pages of the Environment Centre.
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