February 17, 2011
Inhaling ‘Red Mud Disaster’ Dust May Not Be As Harmful As Feared
Scientists in Hungary are reporting that the potential health effects of last October's Red Mud Disaster, one of the worst environmental accidents in Europe, may be less dangerous than previously feared. Their study, reported in ACS's journal Environmental Science & Technology, concludes that the dust from the mud may be no more harmful than particles of ordinary urban air pollution.
Mihály P³sfai and colleagues point out that a burst dam at a factory that processes aluminum ore last October inundated areas near Ajka in northern Hungary with more than 700,000 cubic yards of caustic red mud. Ten people died and dozens were injured. Since the mud contained potentially toxic substances, concern arose about the health effects of inhaling dust formed when the mud dried and was swept into the air by wind.
Image Caption: Red mud produced by the recent industrial accident in Hungary may not be as harmful to health as feared. Credit: American Chemical Society
On the Net:
- Article: The red mud accident in Ajka (Hungary): Characterization and potential health effects of fugitive dust
- American Chemical Society