Western Region rivers polluted by mining activities – Research
Research conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has established that many communities in the Western Region face serious health risk from water bodies heavily polluted by small-scale mining activities.
It further established that small-scale mining activities had extensively damaged the soil and forest in the region, posing a serious threat to sustainable development and posterity.
According to the research, the River Ankobra, which is the main source of drinking water for many communities in the region, is one of the heavily polluted water bodies.
High concentrations of arsenic, manganese, mercury and lead were found in the drinking water of some of the communities during the research.
These were made known at a seminar in Accra yesterday by a team of researchers from the CSIR who undertook the research.
Scientists say the inhalation of mercury vapour could cause memory and speech loss, numbness, vision problems, convulsion and, in some cases, death.
Lead poisoning could also cause anaemia, weakness, constipation, colic, palsy and paralysis of the wrists and ankles, apart from reducing intelligence in children, delay in psycho-motor development, impair memory and hearing problems.
One of the researchers, Dr O. D. Ansa-Asare, called on regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minerals Commission to control the activities of small-scale miners to avoid disaster in the future.
He underscored the need to assist small-scale miners with the requisite technology to refine gold to avoid polluting water bodies.
Dr Ansa-Asare, who is the Head of the Environmental Chemistry Division of the CSIR, said given the seriousness of the situation, it was important for the regulatory bodies to act promptly to save the country’s water bodies.
For his part, the Chief Scientist at the Forest Research Institute of the CSIR, Dr D. Blay, said small-scale mining had led to widespread destruction of the forest cover in the Western Region.
He said generally the country lost forest area equivalent to a football field every day, a situation which he described as a very worrying development.
The Deputy Director-General of the CSIR, Dr (Mrs) R. E. M. Entsuah- Mensah, who chaired the function, said the essence of the seminar was to let the nation know about the findings of the research.
She appealed for sponsorship to enable researchers of the CSIR to undertake more studies that would enhance national development.
Source: Daily Graphic