Study: Female gold diggers at risk of passing mercury to unborn babies – by Lucas Ngasike Standard Media – September 25, 2017)

Women in gold mining sites in Migori County are exposed to high levels of mercury that could harm them and their unborn babies.

A global study found nearly half of Kenyan women involved in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) had mercury levels that exceeded 1 ppm, which approximately corresponds to the US Environmental Protection Agency reference dose.

Mercury levels above 1ppm can be linked to brain damage, IQ loss, and kidney and heart damage. But foetal neurological damage can begin at mercury levels greater than 0.58ppm for which an even higher percentage (71 per cent) of Kenyan women involved in the study were found to be exposed to.

Women in gold mines in Osiri, Mikei, and Masara in Migori were among 1,044 women of child-bearing age who gave samples in 37 locations across 25 countries. “Sampling results from women directly engaged in ASGM, or who had family members practicing ASGM with mercury in Indonesia, Kenya, and Myanmar show significantly elevated mercury levels in their hair,” states the report made public last month.

“In Kenya and Myanmar, the percentage of women exceeding the 1 ppm threshold level was 44 per cent – 93 per cent respectively. When compared to the 0.58 ppm threshold level, the percentage rose to 71 per cent and 100 per cent respectively,” adds the report.

For the rest of this article: