Pollution Research


Dr. Linda Campbell standing in a river with trees behind her.

Dr. Linda Campbell

Dr. Linda Campbell is a professor in the School of the Environment. And while her work might involve gold mines, the focus of her research is on something of far greater value: our aquatic ecosystems.

“Back in the 1800s, people realized there was quite a bit of gold in our region. And over one hundred years later, we’re still seeing the environmental impact of how that gold was mined.”

At the onset of the gold rush, people moved to Nova Scotia from many different places with the hope of striking it big. But in order to extract gold from the mines, miners relied on a toxic metal to help isolate the gold: mercury. First, mercury was poured over crushed ore rock rich with gold, dissolving it. After the gold dissolved, the mercury was heated until it evaporated leaving only the mine’s prize. And because the 19th century wasn’t too concerned with environmental laws and regulations, one can only imagine the amount of mercury used in the pursuit of underground riches.

To compound the issue, rocks in the area possess a naturally higher level of arsenic than many other regions, so when rocks were crushed for mining, that’s right—the bioavailability of arsenic in surrounding areas changed, which also left its mark on our environment.

“We’ve seen lots of great research on this with respect to terrestrial ecosystems, but not a whole lot when it comes to freshwater aquatic ecosystems. That’s what makes my research at Saint Mary’s so important and exciting”.

Thanks to Dr. Campbell, we’re learning more about vital aquatic ecosystems and how we can better protect them, making Dr. Campbell’s research quite literally worth its weight in gold.

To learn more about The School of the Environment, click here.