Mercury Cause Of Kidney Failures, Death
5/5/2012 9:33:26 AM -
Mercury, a chemical used in extracting gold and also found in e-waste, is said to be the cause of many kidney failures leading to death among young people in the country.
According to the Head of the Public Health Unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Philip K. Amoo, many of the kidney recorded deaths among people between the ages of 35 and 45, were due to “heavy metal deposition in the kidney leading to kidney failure.
At a stakeholders meeting organised by the Ecological Restoration and the Global Environment Facilities Small Grant Programme,
it was, therefore, identified that the country was sitting on a time-bomb as mercury continued to be used indiscriminately in the mining sector leading to pollution in the environment, soil and water bodies.
Stakeholders including officials from the Environment Protection Agency, Food and Drugs Board, environmental non-governmental organisations and environmental experts, identified that the dangerous chemical got into the blood stream of people when they consumed contaminated fish, vegetables such as cabbage grown with mercury polluted water and also when they breathed in the toxic waste from fumes of burnt e-waste.
Mercury, used in extracting gold in the mining sector and also found in e-waste, is described as a chemical with hidden hazards which when exposed to humans could have dire consequences in the health of people in the long-term.
According to them, mercury, which is a known toxic substance that is harmful to humans, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and young children, might have toxic effects on the nervous system, lungs, skin, eyes, digestive and the immune systems.
Apart from activities of small scale miners who are said to be the most culprit of exposing people to the dangers of mercury through their activities, the stakeholders also identified a potential dangerous site in the country as the Agbogbloshie market in Accra where e-waste was burnt in the open exposing food stuffs, water bodies and people within and outside the vicinity to danger.
They further identified that mercury from the burnt e-waste was released into the Odaw River which runs through the market, while farmers in the area also used the water to water their vegetables.
The Executive Director of Ecological Restorations, Mr Emmanuel Odjam Akumatey, said there was also a global dimension for health to the situation and that atmospheric and oceanic transport of mercury as well as global trade contaminated food and cosmetic products.
The stakeholders called for stiffer policies which would ensure that the use of mercury in the country was properly regulated so that it was not misused.
They also called for the intensive education on proper disposal of lead batteries and other objects containing mercury.