Levels of fluoride in sheep being raised near an aluminium smelter are just under the “danger mark”, which an expert at the Environmental Agency says is cause for “worry”.
RÚV reports that, according to a new report from an environmental study conducted by the Alcoa smelter in Reyðarfjörður, samples were taken from sheep on the farms of nearby Slétta and Þernunes. The findings show that whilst no sheep are suffering from fluoride poisoning, there were very high levels of fluoride found in the jaw bones of both adult sheep and lambs at the Slétta farm.
The fluoride levels discovered were measured at 3,000 microgrammes per gramme of bone ash from three sheep, and 3,900 microgrammes in one in six sheep at Slétta. The “danger mark” for fluoride concentrations is 4,000 to 6,000 microgrammes. Before the smelter began operations, fluoride levels in sheep were usually somewhere around only 800 microgrammes.
Sigríður Kristjánsdóttir of the Environmental Agency expressed concerns about these results, saying, “We are worried about this. We need to pay close attention to this, and continue investigations.”
The environmental study of the region around the smelter began a year ago, at the behest of the Environmental Agency. Their request was prompted when a malfunction at the smelter the summer previous released high levels of fluoride into the surrounding area.
Since then, Alcoa has warned farmers in the region of the emissions, and conducted tests on hay and animals.
Dagmar Ýr Stefánsdóttir, a spokesperson for Alcoa, told reporters that the fluoride levels are higher than the company would like to see, and they want to do better.