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JOURNAL

Environmental Health Insights

Environmental Health and Safety Hazards of Indigenous Small-Scale Gold Mining Using Cyanidation in the Philippines

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Environmental Health Insights 2016:10 125-131

Original Research

Published on 08 Aug 2016

DOI: 10.4137/EHI.S38459


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Abstract

Objectives: This cross-sectional study aimed at the environmental health hazards at work and cyanide exposure of small-scale gold miners engaged in gold extraction from ores in a mining area in the Philippines.

Methods: Methods consisted of structured questionnaire-guided interviews, work process observation tools, physical health assessment by medical doctors, and laboratory examination and blood cyanide determination in the blood samples of 34 indigenous small-scale gold miners from Benguet, Philippines.

Results: The small-scale gold miners worked for a mean of 10.3 years, had a mean age of 36 years, with mean lifetime mining work hours of 18,564. All were involved in tunneling work (100%) while a considerable number were involved in mixing cyanide with the ore (44%). A considerable number were injured (35%) during the mining activity, and an alarming number (35%) had elevated blood cyanide level. The most prevalent hazard was exposure to chemicals, particularly to cyanide and nitric acid, which were usually handled with bare hands.

Conclusion: The small-scale gold miners were exposed to occupational and environmental hazards at work.



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