Goaso – The use of mercury in gold refining has environmental and health implications now and in the future, repeated Dr. Jackson Adiyiah Nyantakyi, Ahafo Regional Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Dr. Nyantakyi, in a presentation titled, Greening the ‘smooth’ business to deal with environmental and health ramifications, said that a poor business environment has disastrous health and environmental consequences.
He made the revelation during a sensitization workshop for around 30 artisans and small-scale miners (ASM) across Ahafo region in Goaso, the regional capital, on Tuesday.
The regional director noted that routine EPA surveillance activities and environmental monitoring in the Ahafo region had revealed some structures believed to house the processing of mine tailings in parts of the area.
Dr. Nyantakyi said mercury emission sources include volcanic activity, weathering of rocks, movement of water bodies, forest fires, biological processes and intentional use of mercury.
“Mercury is readily absorbed into the human bloodstream through the skin, inhaled into the lungs and digestive system, absorbed by fish, microorganisms and other food chains,” he said.
Dr Nyantakyi said that rashes, body discoloration, rough skin, body defects in babies and other health implications are the signs of mercury absorption in the human system, saying that let’s unite to significantly reduce the impacts.
He added that ASM provided employment to around 1,000,000 people and accounted for around 30% of Ghana’s total gold production, emphasizing that it must be undertaken in a sustainable manner to ensure social and economic development.
The regional manager urged ASM and other workers who come into contact with mercury to minimize impacts by using nose masks, goggles, earplugs, Wellington boots, gloves and protective clothing.
Dr. Nyantakyi reiterated that managing mercury waste in an environmentally sound manner to reduce human and animal exposure, wastewater treatment, the Minerals Commission and effective EPA regulation were the best solution to the problem.
“We can remedy the situation through environmental education and awareness in communities, churches, schools, mosques and the adoption of mercury-free technologies such as the retort method to trap mercury for reuse. “, did he declare.
Mr. Hamza Mubarak, on behalf of the participants, expressed his gratitude to the Ahafo Regional Directorate of the EPA, for raising awareness on the impacts of their occupation on the environment.