Environmentalists call it the dark side of the Gold Rush legacy – mining waste. Some of that waste is in so-called mine tailings…the gravel left behind after hydraulic mining.
"Unfortunately the rocks were filled with naturally occurring toxins."
Elizabeth Martin is with the Nevada City-based Sierra Fund. She says those rocks are now on gravel roads throughout the Sierra…and when cars kick up the dust, people are inhaling it.
Martin says the state should commission studies by research institutions.
"University of California, California State University - put their heads together and figure out how to look at what’s happening. It may be that these exposures are minimal, it may be that they’re unimportant."
A report by the Sierra Fund also recommends a public education campaign about health hazards and creating a funding mechanism to pay for toxic cleanups.