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Special Issue "Integrated Assessment of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in Ghana"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Nil Basu

Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Montreal, QC H9X 3V9, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Guest Editor
Ms. Susan Keane

Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011, USA
Website | E-Mail
Guest Editor
Dr. Paleah Black Moher

Artisanal Gold Council, 101-732 Comorant St. Victoria, BC V8W 4A5, Canada
Website | E-Mail

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) has proliferated worldwide, due to powerful economic forces and widespread poverty. Globally, an estimated 20 million people are directly engaged in ASGM, and an estimated 100 million depend on ASGM for their livelihoods. ASGM can provide significant economic benefits to miners and their communities, particularly in rural areas, where viable alternative livelihoods are scarce. However, ASGM can also ravage landscapes, contaminate aquatic resources, and contribute mercury to the environment. The total environmental and health burden of ASGM in communities is unknown, and the complex interactions influencing this burden, which span public health, social, political, economic, and ecological domains, are not well understood.

Over the past several years, researchers from Ghana and abroad have come together to conduct an integrated assessment (http://asgmresearch.weebly.com/) to collect and analyze economic, social, environmental, and public health data to address the following overarching, policy-relevant question: What are the causes, consequences, and correctives of small-scale gold mining in Ghana? More specifically: What alternatives are available in resource-limited settings in Ghana that allow for gold-mining to occur in a manner that maintains ecological health and human health without hindering near- and long-term economic prosperity? The outcome of this activity is pertinent not only to Ghana, but also to dozens of other low- and middle-income countries grappling with the challenges posed by artisanal and small-scale gold mining. In addition, the findings from this endeavor will help inform Ghana and the other countries who will become parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which has a dedicated article concerning the ASGM sector.

The integrated assessment was conducted by three technical work groups (natural sciences, human health, and social sciences and economics) comprising mainly Ghanaian researchers hailing from academia, government, and NGOs, as well as several partners from North America. Each work group was advised by independent, international experts, and a project manager and two principal investigators oversaw the entire project. The Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan provided funding for the integrated assessment. This Special Issue presents findings from individual research conducted by members of the integrated assessment team, as well as synthesis papers by the technical work groups

Dr. Nil Basu
Ms. Susan Keane
Dr. Paleah Black Moher
Guest Editors

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Published Papers (17 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Assessing the Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts of Artisanal Gold Mining on the Livelihoods of Communities in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality in Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(2), 160; doi:10.3390/ijerph13020160
Received: 21 May 2015 / Revised: 21 December 2015 / Accepted: 8 January 2016 / Published: 26 January 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (968 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Gold mining has played an important role in Ghana’s economy, however the negative environmental and socio-economic effects on the host communities associated with gold mining have overshadowed these economic gains. It is within this context that this paper assessed in an integrated manner
[...] Read more.
Gold mining has played an important role in Ghana’s economy, however the negative environmental and socio-economic effects on the host communities associated with gold mining have overshadowed these economic gains. It is within this context that this paper assessed in an integrated manner the environmental and socio-economic impacts of artisanal gold mining in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality from a natural and social science perspective. The natural science group collected 200 random samples on bi-weekly basis between January to October 2013 from water bodies in the study area for analysis in line with methods outlined by the American Water Works Association, while the social science team interviewed 250 residents randomly selected for interviews on socio-economic issues associated with mining. Data from the socio-economic survey was analyzed using logistic regression with SPSS version 17. The results of the natural science investigation revealed that the levels of heavy metals in water samples from the study area in most cases exceeded GS 175-1/WHO permissible guideline values, which are in tandem with the results of inhabitants’ perceptions of water quality survey (as 83% of the respondents are of the view that water bodies in the study area are polluted). This calls for cost-benefits analysis of mining before new mining leases are granted by the relevant authorities. Full article
Open AccessArticle 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(1), 139; doi:10.3390/ijerph13010139
Received: 17 June 2015 / Revised: 29 December 2015 / Accepted: 8 January 2016 / Published: 18 January 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (670 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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
[...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessArticle Ecological Risk of Heavy Metals and a Metalloid in Agricultural Soils in Tarkwa, Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(9), 11448-11465; doi:10.3390/ijerph120911448
Received: 18 May 2015 / Revised: 31 August 2015 / Accepted: 6 September 2015 / Published: 11 September 2015
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (1250 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Heavy metals and a metalloid in agricultural soils in 19 communities in Tarkwa were analyzed to assess the potential ecological risk. A total of 147 soil samples were collected in June, 2012 and analyzed for As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb
[...] Read more.
Heavy metals and a metalloid in agricultural soils in 19 communities in Tarkwa were analyzed to assess the potential ecological risk. A total of 147 soil samples were collected in June, 2012 and analyzed for As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn. Mean concentrations (mg/kg dw) of heavy metals in the communities decreased in order of Zn (39) ˃ Cr (21) ˃ Pb (7.2) ˃ Cu (6.2) ˃ As (4.4) ˃ Ni (3.7) ˃ Co (1.8) ˃ Hg (0.32) ˃ Cd (0.050). Correlations among heavy metals and soil properties indicated that soil organic matter could have substantial influence on the total contents of these metals in soil. From the results, integrated pollution (Cdeg) in some communities such as, Wangarakrom (11), Badukrom (13) and T–Tamso (17) indicated high pollution with toxic metals, especially from As and Hg. Potential ecological risk (RI) indices indicated low (Mile 7) to high risks (Wangarakrom; Badukrom) of metals. Based on pollution coefficient (Cif), Cdeg, monomial ecological risk (Eir) and RI, the investigated soils fall within low to high contamination and risk of heavy metals to the ecological system especially plants, soil invertebrates and/or mammalian wildlife. This represented moderate potential ecological risk in the study area, and mining activities have played a significant role. Full article
Open AccessArticle Identification of Response Options to Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in Ghana via the Delphi Process
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(9), 11345-11363; doi:10.3390/ijerph120911345
Received: 30 July 2015 / Revised: 2 September 2015 / Accepted: 3 September 2015 / Published: 10 September 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2327 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The Delphi technique is a means of facilitating discussion among experts in order to develop consensus, and can be used for policy formulation. This article describes a modified Delphi approach in which 27 multi-disciplinary academics and 22 stakeholders from Ghana and North America
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The Delphi technique is a means of facilitating discussion among experts in order to develop consensus, and can be used for policy formulation. This article describes a modified Delphi approach in which 27 multi-disciplinary academics and 22 stakeholders from Ghana and North America were polled about ways to address negative effects of small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Ghana. In early 2014, the academics, working in disciplinary groups, synthesized 17 response options based on data aggregated during an Integrated Assessment of ASGM in Ghana. The researchers participated in two rounds of Delphi polling in March and April 2014, during which 17 options were condensed into 12. Response options were rated via a 4-point Likert scale in terms of benefit (economic, environmental, and benefit to people) and feasibility (economic, social/cultural, political, and implementation). The six highest-scoring options populated a third Delphi poll, which 22 stakeholders from diverse sectors completed in April 2015. The academics and stakeholders also prioritized the response options using ranking exercises. The technique successfully gauged expert opinion on ASGM, and helped identify potential responses, policies and solutions for the sector. This is timely given that improvement to the ASGM sector is an important component within the UN Minamata Convention. Full article
Open AccessArticle Injuries among Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Miners in Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(9), 10886-10896; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910886
Received: 30 June 2015 / Revised: 20 August 2015 / Accepted: 27 August 2015 / Published: 2 September 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (323 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Artisanal and small-scale gold miners are confronted with numerous hazards often resulting in varying degrees of injuries and fatalities. In Ghana, like many developing countries, there is paucity of information on the causes and nature of the accidents that result in the injuries.
[...] Read more.
Artisanal and small-scale gold miners are confronted with numerous hazards often resulting in varying degrees of injuries and fatalities. In Ghana, like many developing countries, there is paucity of information on the causes and nature of the accidents that result in the injuries. The study was a retrospective, cross sectional type that examined the records of injuries of artisanal and small-scale gold miners presented to the emergency department of a district hospital in the Eastern Region of Ghana from 2006 to 2013. The causes, types, and outcomes of reported injuries were analyzed for 72 cases. Occurrences of mining accidents reported in selected Ghanaian media during the year 2007–2012 were also analyzed to corroborate the causes of the accidents. Fractures and contusions constituted the most frequently occurring injuries, with collapse of the mine pits and falls being the most frequent cause of accidents reported both by the hospital and media records. This study shows that though varied degrees of injuries occur among the miners, the potential for serious injuries is substantial. Measures to reduce the incidence of injuries and fatalities should include education and training on the use of safe working tools and means of creating a safe working environment. Full article
Open AccessArticle Mercury Exposure Assessment and Spatial Distribution in A Ghanaian Small-Scale Gold Mining Community
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(9), 10755-10782; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910755
Received: 2 June 2015 / Revised: 18 August 2015 / Accepted: 26 August 2015 / Published: 1 September 2015
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (1412 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mercury is utilized worldwide in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and may pose a risk for miners and mining communities. While a number of studies have characterized mercury in ASGM communities, most have focused on a single media and few have taken
[...] Read more.
Mercury is utilized worldwide in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and may pose a risk for miners and mining communities. While a number of studies have characterized mercury in ASGM communities, most have focused on a single media and few have taken a holistic approach. Here, a multiple media exposure assessment and cross-sectional study of mercury was conducted in 2010 through 2012 in northeast Ghana with a small-scale gold mining community, Kejetia, a subsistence farming community, Gorogo, and an urban ASGM gold refinery in Bolgatanga. The objective was to assess mercury in a range of human (urine and hair) and ecological (household soil, sediment, fish, and ore) samples to increase understanding of mercury exposure pathways. All participants were interviewed on demographics, occupational and medical histories, and household characteristics. Participants included 90 women of childbearing age and 97 adults from Kejetia and 75 adults from Gorogo. Median total specific gravity-adjusted urinary, hair, and household soil mercury were significantly higher in Kejetia miners (5.18 µg/L, 0.967 µg/g, and 3.77 µg/g, respectively) than Kejetia non-miners (1.18 µg/L, 0.419 µg/g, and 2.00 µg/g, respectively) and Gorogo participants (0.154 µg/L, 0.181 µg/g, and 0.039 µg/g) in 2011. Sediment, fish, and ore Hg concentrations were below guideline values. Median soil mercury from the Bolgatanga refinery was very high (54.6 µg/g). Estimated mean mercury ingestion for Kejetia adults from soil and dust exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reference dose (0.3 µg Hg/kg·day) for pica (0.409 µg Hg/kg·day) and geophagy (20.5 µg Hg/kg·day) scenarios. Most participants with elevated urinary and household soil mercury were miners, but some non-miners approached and exceeded guideline values, suggesting a health risk for non-mining residents living within these communities. Full article
Open AccessArticle Comparative Assessment of Heavy Metals in Drinking Water Sources in Two Small-Scale Mining Communities in Northern Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(9), 10620-10634; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910620
Received: 18 May 2015 / Revised: 10 August 2015 / Accepted: 25 August 2015 / Published: 28 August 2015
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (1237 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The study assessed levels of heavy metals in drinking water sources in two small-scale mining communities (Nangodi and Tinga) in northern Ghana. Seventy-two (72) water samples were collected from boreholes, hand dug wells, dug-out, and a stream in the two mining communities. The
[...] Read more.
The study assessed levels of heavy metals in drinking water sources in two small-scale mining communities (Nangodi and Tinga) in northern Ghana. Seventy-two (72) water samples were collected from boreholes, hand dug wells, dug-out, and a stream in the two mining communities. The levels of mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), and cadmium (Cd) were determined using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS). Mean levels (mg/l) of heavy metals in water samples from Nangodi and Tinga communities were 0.038 and 0.064 (Hg), 0.031 and 0.002 (As), 0.250 and 0.031 (Pb), 0.034 and 0.002 (Zn), and 0.534 and 0.023 (Cd), respectively, for each community. Generally, levels of Hg, As, Pb, Zn, and Cd in water from Nangodi exceeded the World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulated limits of 0.010 for Hg, As, and Pb, 3.0 for Zn and 0.003 for Cd for drinking water, and levels of Hg, Pb, and Cd recorded in Tinga, exceeded the stipulated WHO limits. Ingestion of water, containing elevated levels of Hg, As, and Cd by residents in these mining communities may pose significant health risks. Continuous monitoring of the quality of drinking water sources in these two communities is recommended. Full article
Open AccessArticle An Investigation of Organic and Inorganic Mercury Exposure and Blood Pressure in a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community in Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 10020-10038; doi:10.3390/ijerph120810020
Received: 26 June 2015 / Revised: 28 July 2015 / Accepted: 17 August 2015 / Published: 21 August 2015
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (584 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is increasing concern about the cardiovascular effects of mercury (Hg) exposure, and that organic methylmercury and inorganic Hg2+ may affect the cardiovascular system and blood pressure differentially. In small-scale gold mining communities where inorganic, elemental Hg exposures are high, little is
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There is increasing concern about the cardiovascular effects of mercury (Hg) exposure, and that organic methylmercury and inorganic Hg2+ may affect the cardiovascular system and blood pressure differentially. In small-scale gold mining communities where inorganic, elemental Hg exposures are high, little is known about the effects of Hg on blood pressure. In 2011, we assessed the relationship between Hg exposure and blood pressure (BP) in a cross-sectional study of adults from a small-scale gold mining community, Kejetia, and subsistence farming community, Gorogo, in Ghana’s Upper East Region. Participants’ resting heart rate and BP were measured, and hair and urine samples were provided to serve as biomarkers of organic and inorganic Hg exposure, respectively. Participants included 70 miners and 26 non-miners from Kejetia and 75 non-miners from Gorogo. Total specific gravity-adjusted urinary and hair Hg was higher among Kejetia miners than Kejetia non-miners and Gorogo participants (median urinary Hg: 5.17, 1.18, and 0.154 µg/L, respectively; hair Hg: 0.945, 0.419, and 0.181 µg/g, respectively). Hypertension was prevalent in 17.7% of Kejetia and 21.3% of Gorogo participants. Urinary and hair Hg were not significantly associated with systolic or diastolic BP for Kejetia or Gorogo participants while adjusting for sex, age, and smoking status. Although our results follow trends seen in other studies, the associations were not of statistical significance. Given the unique study population and high exposures to inorganic Hg, the work contained here will help increase our understanding of the cardiovascular effects of Hg. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Association between Noise, Cortisol and Heart Rate in a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community—A Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 9952-9966; doi:10.3390/ijerph120809952
Received: 19 May 2015 / Revised: 11 August 2015 / Accepted: 18 August 2015 / Published: 21 August 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (470 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
We performed a cross-sectional pilot study on salivary cortisol, heart rate, and personal noise exposures in a small-scale gold mining village in northeastern Ghana in 2013. Cortisol level changes between morning and evening among participants showed a relatively low decline in cortisol through
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We performed a cross-sectional pilot study on salivary cortisol, heart rate, and personal noise exposures in a small-scale gold mining village in northeastern Ghana in 2013. Cortisol level changes between morning and evening among participants showed a relatively low decline in cortisol through the day (−1.44 ± 4.27 nmol/L, n = 18), a pattern consistent with chronic stress. A multiple linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, smoking status, and time between samples indicated a significant increase of 0.25 nmol/L cortisol from afternoon to evening per 1 dBA increase in equivalent continuous noise exposure (Leq) over that period (95% CI: 0.08–0.42, Adj R2 = 0.502, n = 17). A mixed effect linear regression model adjusting for age and sex indicated a significant increase of 0.29 heart beats per minute (BPM) for every 1 dB increase in Leq. Using standard deviations (SDs) as measures of variation, and adjusting for age and sex over the sampling period, we found that a 1 dBA increase in noise variation over time (Leq SD) was associated with a 0.5 BPM increase in heart rate SD (95% CI: 0.04–−0.9, Adj. R2 = 0.229, n = 16). Noise levels were consistently high, with 24-hour average Leq exposures ranging from 56.9 to 92.0 dBA, with a mean daily Leq of 82.2 ± 7.3 dBA (mean monitoring duration 22.1 ± 1.9 hours, n = 22). Ninety-five percent of participants had 24-hour average Leq noise levels over the 70 dBA World health Organization (WHO) guideline level for prevention of hearing loss. These findings suggest that small-scale mining communities may face multiple, potentially additive health risks that are not yet well documented, including hearing loss and cardiovascular effects of stress and noise. Full article
Open AccessArticle Accumulation of Heavy Metals and Metalloid in Foodstuffs from Agricultural Soils around Tarkwa Area in Ghana, and Associated Human Health Risks
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 8811-8827; doi:10.3390/ijerph120808811
Received: 17 May 2015 / Revised: 15 July 2015 / Accepted: 22 July 2015 / Published: 28 July 2015
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (3715 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study was carried out to assess the extent of heavy metals and metalloid accumulation from agricultural soils to foodstuffs (viz, M. esculenta (cassava) and Musa paradisiaca (plantain)) around thirteen neighboring communities within Tarkwa, Ghana; and to estimate the human health risk associated
[...] Read more.
This study was carried out to assess the extent of heavy metals and metalloid accumulation from agricultural soils to foodstuffs (viz, M. esculenta (cassava) and Musa paradisiaca (plantain)) around thirteen neighboring communities within Tarkwa, Ghana; and to estimate the human health risk associated with consumption of these foodstuffs. Concentrations of As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn were measured with an inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometer and mercury analysis was done using a mercury analyzer. From the results, 30% of cassava samples collected, contained higher concentrations of Pb when compared to Codex Alimentarius Commission standard values. Bioconcentration factor indicated that Ni had higher capacity of absorption into food crops from soil than the other heavy metals. For both children and adults, the target hazard quotient (THQ) of Pb in cassava in communities such as Techiman, Wangarakrom, Samahu, and Tebe (only children) were greater than 1, which is defined as an acceptable risk value. This indicated that residents could be exposed to significant health risks associated with cassava consumption. Full article
Open AccessArticle Injury Risk Factors in a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community in Ghana’s Upper East Region
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 8744-8761; doi:10.3390/ijerph120808744
Received: 18 May 2015 / Revised: 17 July 2015 / Accepted: 21 July 2015 / Published: 24 July 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (840 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Occupational injury is one of many health concerns related to small-scale gold mining (ASGM), but few data exist on the subject, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2011 and 2013, we examined accidents, injuries, and potential risk factors in a Ghanaian ASGM community. In
[...] Read more.
Occupational injury is one of many health concerns related to small-scale gold mining (ASGM), but few data exist on the subject, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2011 and 2013, we examined accidents, injuries, and potential risk factors in a Ghanaian ASGM community. In 2011, 173 participants were surveyed on occupational history and health, and 22 of these were surveyed again in 2013. Injury rates were estimated at 45.5 and 38.5 injuries per 100 person-years in 2011 and in 2013, respectively; these rates far surpass those of industrialized mines in the U.S. and South Africa. Demographic and job characteristics generally were not predictive of injury risk, though there was a significant positive association with injury risk for males and smokers. Legs and knees were the most common body parts injured, and falling was the most common cause of injury. The most common type of injuries were cuts or lacerations, burns and scalds, and contusions and abrasions. Only two miners had ever received any occupational safety training, and PPE use was low. Our results suggest that injuries should be a priority area for occupational health research in ASGM. Full article
Open AccessArticle Injury Profiles Associated with Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Tarkwa, Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(7), 7922-7937; doi:10.3390/ijerph120707922
Received: 16 May 2015 / Revised: 6 July 2015 / Accepted: 8 July 2015 / Published: 10 July 2015
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (711 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is inherently risky, but little is known about mining-associated hazards and injuries despite the tremendous growth worldwide of ASGM and the benefits it offers. The current study aimed to characterize the physical injuries associated with ASGM in
[...] Read more.
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is inherently risky, but little is known about mining-associated hazards and injuries despite the tremendous growth worldwide of ASGM and the benefits it offers. The current study aimed to characterize the physical injuries associated with ASGM in Ghana to guide policy formulation. A cross-sectional survey was carried out in the Tarkwa mining district of the Western Region of Ghana in 2014. A total of 404 small-scale miners were recruited and interviewed regarding their occupational injury experiences over the preceding 10 years using a paper-based structured questionnaire. Nearly one-quarter (23.5%) of the miners interviewed reported getting injured over the previous 10 years, and the overall injury rate was calculated to be 5.39 per 100 person years. The rate was significantly higher for women (11.93 per 100 person years) and those with little mining experience (e.g., 25.31 per 100 person years for those with less than one year of work experience). The most injury-prone mining activities were excavation (58.7%) and crushing (23.1%), and over 70% of the injuries were reported to be due to miners being hit by an object. The majority of the injuries (57%) were lacerations, and nearly 70% of the injuries were to the upper or lower limbs. Approximately one-third (34.7%) of the injuries resulted in miners missing more than two weeks of work. One-quarter of the injured workers believed that abnormal work pressure played a role in their injuries, and nearly two-fifths believed that their injuries could have been prevented, with many citing personal protective equipment as a solution. About one-quarter of the employees reported that their employers never seemed to be interested in the welfare or safety of their employees. These findings greatly advance our understanding of occupational hazards and injuries amongst ASGM workers and help identify several intervention points. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview Integrated Assessment of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Ghana—Part 2: Natural Sciences Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 8971-9011; doi:10.3390/ijerph120808971
Received: 7 May 2015 / Revised: 15 July 2015 / Accepted: 22 July 2015 / Published: 31 July 2015
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (2414 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This paper is one of three synthesis documents produced via an integrated assessment (IA) that aims to increase understanding of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Ghana. Given the complexities surrounding ASGM, an integrated assessment (IA) framework was utilized to analyze socio-economic,
[...] Read more.
This paper is one of three synthesis documents produced via an integrated assessment (IA) that aims to increase understanding of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Ghana. Given the complexities surrounding ASGM, an integrated assessment (IA) framework was utilized to analyze socio-economic, health, and environmental data, and co-develop evidence-based responses with stakeholders. This paper focuses on the causes, status, trends, and consequences of ecological issues related to ASGM activity in Ghana. It reviews dozens of studies and thousands of samples to document evidence of heavy metals contamination in ecological media across Ghana. Soil and water mercury concentrations were generally lower than guideline values, but sediment mercury concentrations surpassed guideline values in 64% of samples. Arsenic, cadmium, and lead exceeded guideline values in 67%, 17%, and 24% of water samples, respectively. Other water quality parameters near ASGM sites show impairment, with some samples exceeding guidelines for acidity, turbidity, and nitrates. Additional ASGM-related stressors on environmental quality and ecosystem services include deforestation, land degradation, biodiversity loss, legacy contamination, and potential linkages to climate change. Though more research is needed to further elucidate the long-term impacts of ASGM on the environment, the plausible consequences of ecological damages should guide policies and actions to address the unique challenges posed by ASGM. Full article
Open AccessReview Integrated Assessment of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Ghana — Part 3: Social Sciences and Economics
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(7), 8133-8156; doi:10.3390/ijerph120708133
Received: 6 April 2015 / Revised: 21 May 2015 / Accepted: 1 July 2015 / Published: 15 July 2015
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (1351 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article is one of three synthesis reports resulting from an integrated assessment (IA) of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Ghana. Given the complexities that involve multiple drivers and diverse disciplines influencing ASGM, an IA framework was used to analyze economic,
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This article is one of three synthesis reports resulting from an integrated assessment (IA) of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Ghana. Given the complexities that involve multiple drivers and diverse disciplines influencing ASGM, an IA framework was used to analyze economic, social, health, and environmental data and to co-develop evidence-based responses in collaboration with pertinent stakeholders. We look at both micro- and macro-economic processes surrounding ASGM, including causes, challenges, and consequences. At the micro-level, social and economic evidence suggests that the principal reasons whereby most people engage in ASGM involve “push” factors aimed at meeting livelihood goals. ASGM provides an important source of income for both proximate and distant communities, representing a means of survival for impoverished farmers as well as an engine for small business growth. However, miners and their families often end up in a “poverty trap” of low productivity and indebtedness, which reduce even further their economic options. At a macro level, Ghana’s ASGM activities contribute significantly to the national economy even though they are sometimes operating illegally and at a disadvantage compared to large-scale industrial mining companies. Nevertheless, complex issues of land tenure, social stability, mining regulation and taxation, and environmental degradation undermine the viability and sustainability of ASGM as a livelihood strategy. Although more research is needed to understand these complex relationships, we point to key findings and insights from social science and economics research that can guide policies and actions aimed to address the unique challenges of ASGM in Ghana and elsewhere. Full article
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Open AccessReview Integrated Assessment of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Ghana—Part 1: Human Health Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(5), 5143-5176; doi:10.3390/ijerph120505143
Received: 31 March 2015 / Revised: 27 April 2015 / Accepted: 8 May 2015 / Published: 13 May 2015
Cited by 29 | PDF Full-text (1816 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This report is one of three synthesis documents produced via an integrated assessment (IA) that aims to increase understanding of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Ghana. Given the complexities surrounding ASGM, an IA framework was utilized to analyze economic, social, health,
[...] Read more.
This report is one of three synthesis documents produced via an integrated assessment (IA) that aims to increase understanding of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Ghana. Given the complexities surrounding ASGM, an IA framework was utilized to analyze economic, social, health, and environmental data, and co-develop evidence-based responses with pertinent stakeholders. The current analysis focuses on the health of ASGM miners and community members, and synthesizes extant data from the literature as well as co-authors’ recent findings regarding the causes, status, trends, and consequences of ASGM in Ghana. The results provide evidence from across multiple Ghanaian ASGM sites that document relatively high exposures to mercury and other heavy metals, occupational injuries and noise exposure. The work also reviews limited data on psychosocial health, nutrition, cardiovascular and respiratory health, sexual health, and water and sanitation. Taken together, the findings provide a thorough overview of human health issues in Ghanaian ASGM communities. Though more research is needed to further elucidate the relationships between ASGM and health outcomes, the existing research on plausible health consequences of ASGM should guide policies and actions to better address the unique challenges of ASGM in Ghana and potentially elsewhere. Full article

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Open AccessCommentary Understanding the Social Context of the ASGM Sector in Ghana: A Qualitative Description of the Demographic, Health, and Nutritional Characteristics of a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community in Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(10), 12679-12696; doi:10.3390/ijerph121012679
Received: 30 July 2015 / Revised: 6 October 2015 / Accepted: 8 October 2015 / Published: 12 October 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (861 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This descriptive paper describes factors related to demographics and health in an artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) community in Ghana’s Upper East Region. Participants (n = 114) were surveyed in 2010 and 2011, adapting questions from the established national Demographic Health Survey
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This descriptive paper describes factors related to demographics and health in an artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) community in Ghana’s Upper East Region. Participants (n = 114) were surveyed in 2010 and 2011, adapting questions from the established national Demographic Health Survey (DHS) on factors such as population characteristics, infrastructure, amenities, education, employment, maternal and child health, and diet. In the study community, some indicators of household wealth (e.g., radios, mobile phones, refrigerators) are more common than elsewhere in Ghana, yet basic infrastructure (e.g., cement flooring, sanitation systems) and access to safe water supplies are lacking. Risk factors for poor respiratory health, such as cooking with biomass fuel smoke and smoking tobacco, are common. Certain metrics of maternal and child health are comparable to other areas of Ghana (e.g., frequency of antenatal care), whereas others (e.g., antenatal care from a skilled provider) show deficiencies. Residents surveyed do not appear to lack key micronutrients, but report lower fruit and vegetable consumption than other rural areas. The results enable a better understanding of community demographics, health, and nutrition, and underscore the need for better demographic and health surveillance and data collection across ASGM communities to inform effective policies and programs for improving miner and community health. Full article
Open AccessProject Report An Integrated Assessment Approach to Address Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(9), 11683-11698; doi:10.3390/ijerph120911683
Received: 20 July 2015 / Revised: 3 September 2015 / Accepted: 8 September 2015 / Published: 17 September 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1083 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is growing in many regions of the world including Ghana. The problems in these communities are complex and multi-faceted. To help increase understanding of such problems, and to enable consensus-building and effective translation of scientific findings to
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Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is growing in many regions of the world including Ghana. The problems in these communities are complex and multi-faceted. To help increase understanding of such problems, and to enable consensus-building and effective translation of scientific findings to stakeholders, help inform policies, and ultimately improve decision making, we utilized an Integrated Assessment approach to study artisanal and small-scale gold mining activities in Ghana. Though Integrated Assessments have been used in the fields of environmental science and sustainable development, their use in addressing specific matter in public health, and in particular, environmental and occupational health is quite limited despite their many benefits. The aim of the current paper was to describe specific activities undertaken and how they were organized, and the outputs and outcomes of our activity. In brief, three disciplinary workgroups (Natural Sciences, Human Health, Social Sciences and Economics) were formed, with 26 researchers from a range of Ghanaian institutions plus international experts. The workgroups conducted activities in order to address the following question: What are the causes, consequences and correctives of small-scale gold mining in Ghana? More specifically: What alternatives are available in resource-limited settings in Ghana that allow for gold-mining to occur in a manner that maintains ecological health and human health without hindering near- and long-term economic prosperity? Several response options were identified and evaluated, and are currently being disseminated to various stakeholders within Ghana and internationally. Full article
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