Some conclusions from the Falun studies

The great importance the Falun Mine has had for the technical, economical, social and political history of Sweden and Europe has been recognized by the designation of the Mine and parts of Falun city as a World

Heritage Site by UNESCO. But the long history of environmental impacts of the Mine is also unique and deserves similar recognition.

It appears that the soils and terrestrial ecosystems surrounding Falun have recovered to a remarkable degree during the 20th century. How has this been possible in view of the massive pollution that took place over so many centuries ?

The aquatic environment has had much less time than the terrestrial ecosystems to respond to pollution abatement measures, since the mine water did not begin to be treated until the late 1980s. Nevertheless, a recovery of the aquatic ecosystem can clearly be seen in the Faluan River catchment and its lakes during the 1990s. For example, it is surprising that the environmental conditions are not worse than they are in Lake Runn, despite the large input of metals to which the lake has been - and is still -subjected. To explain this, the speciation and the bioavailability of the metals are a central issue. Both various environmental factors and the presence of other metals certainly influence the bioavaiability and toxicity of a certain metal. Also the possibility of acquired higher tolerance of the biological communities or adaptation of populations to the elevated metal concentrations must be taken into account.

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