Total mercury in blood, hair and urine of artisanal gold miners in the Asutifi District of Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana.

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Total mercury (THg) concentration in human blood, urine and hair samples were determined to ascertain if the miners in Asutifi district of Brong – Ahafo region of Ghana are at a high risk of mercury exposure. In all ninety four (94) samples comprising blood, urine and hair from sixty four (64) Artisanal gold miners and thirty non – miners were collected and analyzed for their total mercury levels using the cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry. The blood total mercury concentrations ranged from 0.16 to 0.78 µg/L with a mean of 0.42 ± 0.25 µg/L for miners and 0.15 to 0.48 µg/L with a mean of 0.32 ± 0.13 µg/L for non – miners. For urine, THg levels ranged 0.82 – 30.88 µg/L with mean of 6.22 ± 6.42 µg/L for miner and 0.83 – 6.74 µg/L with mean of 3.67 ± 2.14 µg/L for non – miners. The hair total mercury concentration ranged from 1.58 to 32.92 µg/g with mean of 6.47 ± 7.56 µg/g for miners and 0.88 – 11.29 µg/g with mean of 3.85 ± 3.10 µg/g for non – miners. The total mercury concentration per creatinine was determined to correct the level of mercury in urine affected by dilution or concentration of the urine due to fluid intake. The results ranged from 0.54 to 17.67 µg/g, with an average value of 4.57 ± 4.20 µgHg/g per creatinine. Although the levels of mercury in blood, hair and urine of miners were higher than the non-miners, but the levels of exposures do not appear to pose a significant health threat according to the World Health Organization (WHO) safety limit.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Chemistry, College of Science in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy in Analytical Chemistry.