Environmental and Health Effects in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining in Kenya
Throughout the sphere, it is appraised that between 10 and 19 million people use mercury to mine gold in more than 70 countries, making mercury pollution from artisanal and small‐scale gold mining a global issue. Despite the economic importance of the precious metal, the social and environmental impacts of mercury use in gold recovery are devastating. The study investigated the associated health problems of mercury (Hg) used by artisanal and Small-Scale gold miners in Kapsaos mining area, Nandi County. Nine samples from different mining locations were collected and analysed in the laboratory. The main goal was to assess the impact of mercury and propose viable mitigation measures. In practice, miners use elemental mercury to extract gold from ore as an amalgam. The amalgam is separated by hand and heated over a stove to separate the gold from the mercury. Due to unregulated tailings, mercury finds its way into the nearby rivers causing water pollution, threatening aquatic life. Moreover, mercury vaporizes on burning site posing a risk to the health of workers through inhalation of mercury vapour, leading to neurological damage. The results of this study concur with the reviewed literature that mercury is indeed a threat to the local community and environment. The research proposes the implementation of mercury-free methods including; Borax technology and gravity concentration techniques. Also, researchers in institutions of higher learning, government, and NGOs should partner in search of mercury-free methods aim at reducing or eliminating mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.