Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences and Technology, Laikipia University, P.O. Box 1100- 20300, Nyahururu, Kenya
Concentrations of metals in samples of fish and drinking water from the study area and nails and scalp hair of male adults between the ages of 28 and 45 years working in Macalder Gold mines in the low lying areas of Migori Gold Mining Belt, collected between Jan, 2014 and December, 2014, are reported in this paper. Purposeful random sampling was used to pick 50 males who worked in the small scale mines area whilst another 50 males from the control which is over 270Kms away, Eldoret, were also included. The control study area is in the highland regions of Eldoret Municipality which forms part of the water catchment area of Lake Victoria. The samples were processed, packed and shipped for analysis in ACME laboratories, Vancouver, Canada. The mean concentration results revealed that the exposure to contaminants from gold mining activities have significantly increased the concentrations of the studied metals in the bodies of the target group working in the gold mines in various gold extraction activities either digging, crushing or roasting the amalgamated mercury –gold. Lead, Cd, Cr, Cu, and Zn concentrations were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the hair samples collected from the polluted area as compared to control area. The research indicated that the male workers in the mines are exposed to high health risks associated with heavy metal contamination and exposure to other metals associated with gold mining. The study advocates for strict adherence to safety measures and remediation practices that would reduce health risks and the degradation of the environment. Education and drastic interventions need to be encouraged to protect the workers from multiple health risks associated with gold mining activities in Migori Gold Belt in Kenya.
Keywords:Gold mines; exposures, heavy metals, human hair; human nails.