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Integrated Assessment of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Ghana—Part 2: Natural Sciences Review

Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Water Research Institute, Tamale, Ghana
Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, University for Development Studies, Nyankpala, Ghana
Department of Chemistry, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
Biodiversity Research Institute, Portland, ME 04103, USA
Centre for Energy, Environment & Sustainable Development, Kumasi, Ghana
Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 0G4, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Susan Keane and Paleah Black Moher
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 8971-9011;
Received: 7 May 2015 / Revised: 15 July 2015 / Accepted: 22 July 2015 / Published: 31 July 2015
PDF [2414 KB, uploaded 12 August 2015]


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: small-scale gold mining; Ghana integrated assessment; mercury; metals; water; public health; ecotoxicology small-scale gold mining; Ghana integrated assessment; mercury; metals; water; public health; ecotoxicology

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Rajaee, M.; Obiri, S.; Green, A.; Long, R.; Cobbina, S.J.; Nartey, V.; Buck, D.; Antwi, E.; Basu, N. Integrated Assessment of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Ghana—Part 2: Natural Sciences Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 8971-9011.

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