Dust Distribution and Monitoring using Lichens as Bioindicators
Principal Investigator: Wytrychowski, Scott I (12)
Licence Number: 13899
Organization: Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.
Licenced Year(s): 2013 2010 2005
Issued: Aug 16, 2005
Project Team: Bonnie Kwiatkowski (U of A), Erin Van (U of Alberta), Sasha Wilkinson (University of Alberta)

Project Description: Air quality is an issue at mine sites, and diamond mining can contribute large quantities of dust to the air. This dust may contain elevated levels of heavy metals. Vehicle and generator exhausts also contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gases. To acheive the goal of sustainable development, Diavik policy focuses on the need to identify potential risks and set targets for pollution prevention to reduce the adverse effects of mine activities on the environment. While innovative technologies on the mining industry reduce emmissions, it is only through continual air quality monitoring that prevention and mitigation programs can be measured and appropriate targets set.

The research objectives are: to determine concentrations of known airborne contaminants in lichen at established distances from the mine site; to determine if a correlation between contaminants and distance exists; to quantify the bioaccumulation of contaminants in lichen to determine the optimal bioindicator species; to dermine if a correlation between contaminant concentrations and plant species, abundances, and diversity can be determined; to define parameters for the use of lichens as bioindicators of contaminants.

Experimental plots will be established on East Island and on undisturbed tundra to provide baseline conditions for comparison. Three to five lichen species will be selected as potential bioindicators of air borne contaminants based on a literature review and a field survey of the mine site and reference areas. Analyses will include those from vehicle emissions and directly from kimberlite mining and other restricted metals. Samples of the substrate (soil, rock, wood) the collected lichens are growing on will be taken and analyzed for the same parameters. These data will assist in confirming the source of tissue contaminants as atmospheric versus substrate.
The study will be conducted at Lac de Gras