Tests show Blackville doesn’t have arsenic poisoning: health minister

New Brunswick Health Minister Mike Murphy says Blackville residents can “breathe a sigh of relief” after tests showed no signs of arsenic toxicity.

Tests by an Ontario laboratory show half of the 99 residents who submitted blood and urine samples for testing have received their results and none showed traces of inorganic arsenic, which is considered toxic.

Murphy says everything has clearly indicated that there is no public health risk in Blackville.

Traces of arsenic were first discovered in a Blackville resident in December 2007.

The Department of Health began investigating the first four potential cases in the fall.

Only one of the seven people confirmed with high levels of arsenic in their bodies has been confirmed to have advanced symptoms of arsenic toxicity.

The Department of Health says the tests show nobody has arsenic poisoning, but Murphy said the blood samples will need to re-tested as a precautionary measure.

“I think the residents of Blackville should breathe a sigh of relief, but we will continue to follow suit to determine what are the origins of this organic arsenic,” he said.

At a packed meeting in Blackville last week, residents complained the government has not done enough to address the health scare, which has had the community on edge for months.

In the response, Murphy announced Thursday the department will set up a 1-800 number to provide information to residents.

The Regional Health Authority is also providing support to the local community health centre and the physicians there.

Several residents had been waiting over nine weeks to receive their initial test results.

The Ontario lab had problems with its equipment, causing the delays.

Environmentalist Inka Milewski suggested the province should set up an environmental health bureau to better handle similar situations in future.

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