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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(1), 139; doi:10.3390/ijerph13010139

Human Health Risk Assessment of Artisanal Miners Exposed to Toxic Chemicals in Water and Sediments in the PresteaHuni Valley District of Ghana

1
Department of Nuclear and Environmental Protection, School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, P.O. Box AE 1, Atomic, Accra, Ghana
2
Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis, P.O. Box AD 738, Cape Coast, Ghana
3
Environmental Protection Agency, P.O. Box M. 326, Accra, Ghana
4
Department of Ecotourism and Environmental Management, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, University for Development Studies, P.O. Box TL 1882, Nyankpala Campus, Tamale, Ghana
5
Department of Environmental Science, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana
6
CSIR—Soil Research Institute, P.O. Box M. 32, Accra, Ghana
7
Department of Chemical Engineering, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
8
Department of Immunology, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, College of Health and Allied Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Nil Basu, Susan Keane and Paleah Black Moher
Received: 17 June 2015 / Revised: 29 December 2015 / Accepted: 8 January 2016 / Published: 18 January 2016
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Abstract

A human health risk assessment of artisanal miners exposed to toxic metals in water bodies and sediments in the PresteaHuni Valley District of Ghana was carried out in this study, in line with US EPA risk assessment guidelines. A total of 70 water and 30 sediment samples were collected from surface water bodies in areas impacted by the operations of artisanal small-scale gold mines in the study area and analyzed for physico-chemical parameters such as pH, TDS, conductivity, turbidity as well as metals and metalloids such as As, Cd, Hg and Pb at CSIR—Water Research Institute using standard methods for the examination of wastewater as outlined by American Water Works Association (AWWA). The mean concentrations of As, Cd, Hg and Pb in water samples ranged from 15 μg/L to 325 μg/L (As), 0.17 μg/L to 340 μg/L (Cd), 0.17 μg/L to 122 μg/L (Pb) and 132 μg/L to 866 μg/L (Hg), respectively. These measured concentrations of arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) were used as input parameters to calculate the cancer and non-cancer health risks from exposure to these metals in surface water bodies and sediments based on an occupational exposure scenario using central tendency exposure (CTE) and reasonable maximum exposure (RME) parameters. The results of the non-cancer human health risk assessment for small-scale miners working around river Anikoko expressed in terms of hazard quotients based on CTE parameters are as follows: 0.04 (Cd), 1.45 (Pb), 4.60 (Hg) and 1.98 (As); while cancer health risk faced by ASGM miners in Dumase exposed to As in River Mansi via oral ingestion of water is 3.1 × 10−3. The hazard quotient results obtained from this study in most cases were above the HQ guidance value of 1.0, furthermore the cancer health risk results were found to be higher than the USEPA guidance value of 1 × 10−4 to 1 × 10−6. These findings call for case-control epidemiological studies to establish the relationship between exposure to the aforementioned toxic chemicals and diseases associated with them as identified in other studies conducted in different countries as basis for developing policy interventions to address the issue of ASGM mine workers safety in Ghana. View Full-Text
Keywords: non-cancer risk; cancer health risk; disease profile; PresteaHuni Valley; hazard quotient non-cancer risk; cancer health risk; disease profile; PresteaHuni Valley; hazard quotient
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MDPI and ACS Style

Obiri, S.; Yeboah, P.O.; Osae, S.; Adu-kumi, S.; Cobbina, S.J.; Armah, F.A.; Ason, B.; Antwi, E.; Quansah, R. Human Health Risk Assessment of Artisanal Miners Exposed to Toxic Chemicals in Water and Sediments in the PresteaHuni Valley District of Ghana. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 139.

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