Nigeria: Intervention reduces lead exposures among artisanal miners
‘Lead Poisoning reduced with Safer Mining Practices in Nigeria’ 22 October 2019
A pilot program to introduce safer mining practices in Nigerian gold mining communities has reduced blood lead levels by 32% according to a study published today. This is the first study to report on a successful intervention to reduce lead exposures among artisanal miners in communities were hundreds of children have died from lead poisoning from the high levels of lead present in the gold ore. “This is an extraordinary achievement demonstrating that it is possible to significantly reduce lead exposures among highly exposed informal miners with simple safer mining practices,” said Perry Gottesfeld, Executive Director of Occupational Knowledge International (OK International) whose organization partnered with Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in this effort.
The safer mining project took place in the Shikira community in Niger State. A bore well was installed to provide wet spray misting to lower airborne lead levels at the ore processing site serving this community. The group reported earlier this year that these control measures reduced airborne lead exposures by 95%. Blood lead levels are considered the best measure of exposure. The organization tracked quarterly blood lead levels of a representative group of 58 miners over 19 months. The study also found that women miners had higher lead levels and experienced lower reductions than men (23% vs. 36%). The study “Declining blood lead levels among small-scale miners participating in a safer mining pilot programme in Nigeria” was published in the British Medical Journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.