Uranium has been mined for years throughout the planet, and provides us with the ability to fuel our nuclear power plants. Uranium mining specifically refers to the process of extracting Uranium Ore from the ground. This practice is done all over the world, but the leaders in Uranium Ore production continue to be Canada, Kazakhstan and Australia.
There are different ways in which we can mine for Uranium Ore, although some certainly prove to be riskier than others. Open Pit mining, for instance, statistically causes a high density of radioactive material in the atmosphere and contaminating our air supply. It is this radioactive material that poses the greatest threat to our environment and our health.
While many radioactive threats that we come across are odorless or invisible rays, the radioactive material produced from mining Uranium Ore is just that- a material.
In addition to affecting our health, this material can affect us environmentally. It contaminates our waters, our food sources and our air supply. Once we ingest this material, the damage to our cells begins immediately, but affects might not be seen for years.
One of the most common catastrophes that workers of Uranium Ore mines experience is Lung Cancer. The materials in our atmosphere pollute our air supply and as we breathe it in, it attaches itself to our lungs. The longer one is exposed to it, the more damage it will do. The material enters the body and immediately begins attacking healthy cells, although we may not see or experience symptoms until much later in life.
Those that ingest the radioactive material through a food source, may see damage to the throat, esophagus or even stomach.
In more recent studies, scientists have proven there is also an effect on unborn fetuses. Genetic mutations and mental deficiencies are two of the more extreme possibilities.
While it is certain that the dangers of Uranium Ore mining are present to the miners themselves, there is also a danger to those around the mines.
The Grand Canyon in the Western United States has seen some contamination. Many water sources around the canyon are off-limits and signs are posted warning visitors of the danger. In recent years, public support has grown, largely to the environmental groups that have spent large amounts of time and money lobbying congress. There is now a protection order around the Grand Canyon to protect from further harm. Unfortunately the damage has already been done. Signs of the mining can be seen throughout the Canyon as a reminder of what once was.
Uranium Ore mining is not ending anytime soon. It is important to know what dangers are lurking from mining of Uranium Ore. The dangers of Uranium Ore mining are plentiful, however the more we educate ourselves, the better our chances to lessen the dangers.
For additional reading on the dangers of Uranium Ore mining, please visit these websites:
Uranium Ore Mining: Wikipedia
Uranium Mining: World Nuclear Effects