Uranium mine workers are exposed to the highest radiation doses of any workers in the nuclear industry. The most serious health hazard associated with uranium mining is lung cancer due to inhaling uranium decay products. Uranium mill tailings contain radioactive materials, notably Radium-226 and heavy metals, for example, manganese and molybdenum, which can leach into the ground water.
According to the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, “primary cancers of the trachea, bronchus and lung among workers previously exposed in uranium mining in Ontario are recognized as occupational diseases under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. They are characteristic of uranium mining and result from exposure to ionizing radiation relating to the uranium mining industry.”
It is fair to say that public health risks are greater with proximity to the mine and milling sites. However, those living downwind and/or downstream may directly be affected.