Title: Mercury in fish: a critical examination of gold mining and human contamination in Ghana

Authors: Petra Tschakert

Addresses: Department of Geography and the Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering, and Development in Africa (AEDESA), 315 Walker Building, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Abstract: This study examines the knowledge of miners, fishermen, fish sellers, and fish buyers regarding the linkages between elemental mercury, methylmercury, fish consumption, and health risks in and around mining areas in Ghana. While findings suggest that a clear grasp of the impacts of mercury on human health is lacking, few potentially polluted fish are consumed in the mining areas. Most customers prefer ocean fish from the Gulf of Guinea and freshwater fish from Lake Volta, neither of which is known for small-scale gold mining. Alarmist messages about contaminated fish from Ghanaian mining sites need to be treated with caution.

Keywords: methylmercury; galamsey mining; mercury contamination; freshwater fish; marine fish; bioaccumulation; trophic levels; mudfish; catfish; tilapia; fish smoking; Ghana; small-scale mining; gold mining; artisanal mining; environment; environmental pollution; human health; health risks.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEP.2010.033232

International Journal of Environment and Pollution, 2010 Vol.41 No.3/4, pp.214 - 228

Published online: 14 May 2010 *

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