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Influence of small-scale gold mining and toxic element concentrations in Bonsa river, Ghana: A potential risk to water quality and public health

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A preliminary assessment of toxic element pollution caused by artisanal and small-scale gold mining in the Bonsa river of Ghana as well as the influence of TOC and SO42− concentration on these traces in the sediment has been determined. With the exception of mercury (Hg), manganese (Mn), and arsenic (As), the concentration of aluminum (Al) in filtered river water exceeded the WHO guideline limit of 0.1 mg L−1 in drinking water. Analyses of toxic element in sediment using Canadian Sediment Quality Criteria, contamination factor, geoaccumulation index, and enrichment factor indicate that river sediment is severely contaminated with Hg confirming the negative impact of the amalgamation technique in gold beneficiation in Ghana. The level of Hg in the surface water exceeded reported values from some rivers in Africa, Asia, and South America. The ranking order of the mean element concentration in both matrices followed the conservative order of traces found in the Earth crust except copper, which was below the detection limit of 0.01 mg kg−1. A Pearson correlation matrix of the toxic element and geology of the river bedrock indicates that the Hg contamination is of anthropogenic origin whilst As, Mn, and Al are the result of natural enrichment. The partitioning of elements in the sediment compartments is independent of TOC and SO42− concentration. Health-risk assessment based on average daily dose, hazard quotient, and cancer risk indicates that Hg is a health risk to the human population. In conclusion, the study has shown that there is a likely anthropic affection of the river and that this situation has worsened since earlier studies. In order to sustain aquatic life and to prevent future human health hazard, an immediate mercury remediation in the river is recommended.
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Influence of small-scale gold mining and toxic element
concentrations in Bonsa river, Ghana: a potential risk to water
quality and public health
Andrews Obeng Affum
1
Shiloh Osae Dede
2
Benjamin Jabes Botwe Nyarko
3
Samuel Osafo Acquaah
6
Edward Ebow Kwaansa-Ansah
6
Godfred Darko
6
Adomako Dickson
5
Enoch Acheampong Affum
4
Joseph Richmond Fianko
5
Received: 6 August 2014 / Accepted: 24 September 2015 / Published online: 18 January 2016
ÓSpringer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015
Abstract A preliminary assessment of toxic element
pollution caused by artisanal and small-scale gold mining
in the Bonsa river of Ghana as well as the influence of TOC
and SO
42-
concentration on these traces in the sediment
has been determined. With the exception of mercury (Hg),
manganese (Mn), and arsenic (As), the concentration of
aluminum (Al) in filtered river water exceeded the WHO
guideline limit of 0.1 mg L
-1
in drinking water. Analyses
of toxic element in sediment using Canadian Sediment
Quality Criteria, contamination factor, geoaccumulation
index, and enrichment factor indicate that river sediment is
severely contaminated with Hg confirming the negative
impact of the amalgamation technique in gold beneficiation
in Ghana. The level of Hg in the surface water exceeded
reported values from some rivers in Africa, Asia, and South
America. The ranking order of the mean element concen-
tration in both matrices followed the conservative order of
traces found in the Earth crust except copper, which was
below the detection limit of 0.01 mg kg
-1
. A Pearson
correlation matrix of the toxic element and geology of the
river bedrock indicates that the Hg contamination is of
anthropogenic origin whilst As, Mn, and Al are the result
of natural enrichment. The partitioning of elements in the
sediment compartments is independent of TOC and SO
42-
concentration. Health-risk assessment based on average
daily dose, hazard quotient, and cancer risk indicates that
Hg is a health risk to the human population. In conclusion,
the study has shown that there is a likely anthropic affec-
tion of the river and that this situation has worsened since
earlier studies. In order to sustain aquatic life and to pre-
vent future human health hazard, an immediate mercury
remediation in the river is recommended.
Keywords Mercury Arsenic Bonsa river Artisanal
and small-scale gold mining Pollution
&Andrews Obeng Affum
aaffum@yahoo.com
Shiloh Osae Dede
dedehosae@fastmail.fm
Benjamin Jabes Botwe Nyarko
b.nyarko@gaecgh.org
Samuel Osafo Acquaah
sosafoacquaah@hotmail.com
Edward Ebow Kwaansa-Ansah
eekwaansaansah@yahoo.com
Godfred Darko
godfreddarko@yahoo.com
Adomako Dickson
d.adomako@gaecgh.org
Enoch Acheampong Affum
enoch13k@yahoo.com
Joseph Richmond Fianko
jrfianko@yahoo.com
1
Nuclear Chemistry and Environmental Research Centre,
National Nuclear Research Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy
Commission, P.O.Box LG 80, Legon, Accra, Ghana
2
National Nuclear Research Institute, National Nuclear
Research Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission,
P.O.Box LG 80, Legon, Accra, Ghana
3
Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, P.O.Box LG 80, Legon,
Accra, Ghana
4
KAAF University College, Accra, Ghana
5
The School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences, Ghana Atomic
Energy/University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
6
Chemistry Department, Kwame Nkrumah University of
Ghana, Kumasi, Ghana
123
Environ Earth Sci (2016) 75:178
DOI 10.1007/s12665-015-5000-8
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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