Accra, July 13,GNA - The French Government, through United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), on Tuesday handed over a Mercury Analyser to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. The Analyser valued at 25,000 dollars would be used both in the laboratory and in the field to determine the amount of mercury pollution in humans, the atmosphere, crops and water bodies.
Hitherto, researchers, who wanted to determine the extent of mercury pollution in samples had to send such specimen to the University of Montpellier, France.
In July last year, a report by a team of Researchers from Ghana and France confirmed high levels of mercury in the blood, urine and hair of some miners in the Western Region.
The Researchers said the levels, if not treated early, could lead to kidney, skin and respiratory problems in the people living around areas where small-scale gold mining, commonly called "galamsey", took place.
The research conducted at Japa, a village near Wassa Akropong, in the Wassa Amenfi District, revealed that both human and environmental samples contained large volumes of mercury above the acceptable standards of World Health Organization (WHO).
UNIDO, which sponsored the Research with funds from the French Government, undertook the work based on an earlier research conducted at Dumasi, also in the Western Region, which revealed similar results as Japa.
Mrs Cecilia Bannerman, Minister of Mines, said the Government recognised the important role that small-scale mining played in employment generation and its direct contribution to the national economic growth of the country.
She said the policy was to support small-scale mining within a legal framework.
Mr Benjamin Nii Ayi Aryee, Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission, thanked the French Government said his investigations showed that the instrument was the first of its kind in the West Africa Sub-Region.
He said the instrument, which would be at the disposal of other institutions in the Sub-Region, would help in speeding up analysis. He said a sensitisation film titled: "Galamsey Champions" intended to get artisanal small-scale miners to reduce the misuse and mishandling of mercury had been developed.