An illegal mining site

An environmental scientist with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) says the health complications of artisanal mining on miners and non-miners should be a cause for concern.

Prof Marian Asantewaa Nkansah has observed that cyanide used in mining causes dizziness, high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Cyanide, Mercury and Arsenic are chemicals commonly used in mining are non-degradable heavy metals which can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

These chemicals harm individuals culminating into health complications include cancer, skin, kidney and liver problems, and in some cases leading to death.

According to Professor Nkansah, mining excavation processes release harmful substances into the atmosphere which harm people in its immediate environment.

“Generally, there are three roots of exposure to contaminants. It includes breathing, eating or through the skin. But the major root of exposure is through breathing. These contaminants in various forms find themselves in the air.

“When you eat vegetables grown in a contaminated area, you are likely to get infected. Heavy metals travel a long distance. The constant release of these chemicals makes the environment bio concentrated,” she said.

The environmental scientist is worried miners are not aware of the harmful effects of their activities.

She cautions individuals against close contact to mining sites.

“We can start by educating those involved in artisanal gold mining. Some do not understand the implications of their activities.

“They do not protect themselves. Neither do they protect the environment. It is not advisable to get close to mining sites,” she pointed out.