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Mist From Niagara Falls is Toxic, Researchers Say

May 8, 1987 GMT

TORONTO (AP) _ A University of Toronto study says the romantic mist rising from Niagara Falls contains large amounts of cancer-causing chemicals, posing an unknown risk to 150,000 people living in the border area.

Millions of honeymooners and other tourists who make brief visits to the falls each year are unlikely to suffer damage, but the people who live and work along the Niagara River may be at greater risk, researchers said.

Workers at fruit orchards, vegetable farms or wineries in the region, and the food they produce, may be especially vulnerable, according to the study by chemical engineering professor Donald Mackay and graduate student Michael McLachlan which was published Thursday by the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Environment Canada’s coordinator for the Niagara River, Murray Brooksbank, said the government will follow up the study by taking samples of chemicals in the air around the falls this year.

The researchers estimated that about 60 metric tons a year of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), chloroform and chlorobenzenes evaporate into the air from the river, about half at the falls and the rest from wave action in the river.

The U.S. and Canadian governments agreed last winter to cooperate in cleaning up toxic dumps along the heavily polluted Niagara, which is lined by industrial plants.

A 1984 report said dangerous chemicals may be seeping into the river from 61 of the 164 toxic dumps near the river, which separates Canada’s Ontario Province from New York State.

The toxic chemicals are known to cause cancer in animals and could pose a similar danger to humans, according to the study, which was partly financed by the federal government.

The Niagara Peninsula, one of the most fertile and warm spots in Canada, is a rich farming area producing apples, grapes, peaches, vegetables, grain and tobacco.