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Sci Total Environ. 2012 Mar 1;419:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.01.017. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

Limitations in small artisanal gold mining addressed by educational components paired with alternative mining methods.

Author information

  • Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. tzolniko@hsph.harvard.educ

Abstract

Current solutions continue to be inadequate in addressing the longstanding, worldwide problem of mercury emissions from small artisanal gold mining. Mercury, an inexpensive and easily accessible heavy metal, is used in the process of extracting gold from ore. Mercury emissions disperse, affecting human populations by causing adverse health effects and environmental and social ramifications. Many developing nations have sizable gold ore deposits, making small artisanal gold mining a major source of employment in the world. Poverty drives vulnerable, rural populations into gold mining because of social and economic instabilities. Educational programs responding to this environmental hazard have been implemented in the past, but have had low positive results due to lack of governmental support and little economic incentive. Educational and enforced intervention programs must be developed in conjunction with governmental agencies in order to successfully eliminate this ongoing problem. Industry leaders offered hopeful suggestions, but revealed limitations when trying to develop encompassing solutions to halt mercury emissions. This research highlights potential options that have been attempted in the past and suggests alternative solutions to improve upon these methods. Some methods include buyer impact recognition, risk assessment proposals exposing a cost-benefit analysis and toxicokinetic modeling, public health awareness campaigns, and the education of miners, healthcare workers, and locals within hazardous areas of mercury exposure. These methods, paired with the implementation of alternative mining techniques, propose a substantial reduction of mercury emissions.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22297251
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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