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Green chemical in B.C. river not toxic, study confirms

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Green chemical in B.C. river not toxic, study confirms


December 31, 2010 – 5:44 pm



By Judith Lavoie, Postmedia News


VICTORIA—The chemical that turned Victoria’s Goldstream River green earlier this week has been confirmed as fluorescein.


Water samples taken Wednesday from the river and from a green-spouting fountain in Veterans Memorial Park were sent to Environment Canada’s Pacific Environmental Science Centre in North Vancouver for assessment, said Dan Gilmore, provincial environment ministry spokesman.


“Test results . . . confirm the substance causing the green colour in the river and the fountain was fluorescein,” Mr. Gilmore said.


“Fluorescein is a synthetic organic compound soluble in water and alcohol. It is widely used as a fluorescent tracer for many applications. The product itself and its products of degradation are not toxic.”


Based on the flow rate of the river, the probable concentration of fluorescein and lab results, Environment Ministry staff do not believe that fish or fish habitat were harmed during this incident, Mr. Gilmore said.


The chemical is usually used to trace leaks from septic tanks and water systems and can be bought online.


Fluorescein is also used in medical diagnosis and guidelines warn it can cause reactions ranging from nausea and hives to death from anaphylactic shock.


Victoria Times Colonist



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