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Agency links mining activities to pollution in 9 counties

By Caroline Chebet | September 28th 2018
By Caroline Chebet | September 28th 2018

Alloyce Otieno(17) in a gold mine site in Kuria on Sunday 01/10/17. He depend on the commodity to support their families after he drop out because of lack of school fees. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Small-scale miners have been linked to pollution and mercury poisoning in gold mining a regions.

According to a report published by the National Environmental and Complaints Committee, gold miners in Migori, Kakamega, Vihiga, Nandi, Siaya, Turkana, Homa Bay, West Pokot and parts of Narok counties use dangerous metals in the extraction process.

“Most gold mining is done in small scale by miners who use mercury, and more recently sodium cyanide, to extract gold. They face higher risks of mercury poisoning,” the report says.

According to the report, the mercury used by the miners is laced with cyanide and is a major source of pollution in gold mining areas.

Exposure to heavy metals used in gold mines has been linked to respiratory and heart diseases as well as kidney failure.

“Large doses of cyanide prevent cells from using oxygen and eventually these cells die. The heart, respiratory system, and central nervous system are most susceptible to cyanide poisoning, which is highly life-threatening,” states the report.

According to the report, medical records showed that 40 per of women tested for mercury had more than one part per million, exceeding safe exposure levels.

Use of heavy metals in mining activities has also affected the environment, water sources and agricultural activities in the nine regions.

“This leads to death of fish and other aquatic organisms and water poisoning. During rain seasons, mercury and cyanide spreads out to farms," states the report.

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