Researchers disagree on study linking mining in Prestea to increased cancer cases

Findings of two different studies on the health implications of mining at Tarkwa Nsuaem and the Prestea Huni Valley districts, all in the Western region have triggered disagreement between researchers.

The study undertaken by the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis concluded that activities of mining resulting from the use of harmful chemicals has polluted water bodies and food crops such as cassava in the two districts.

This according to the study, has resulted in high number of cancer cases and other skin diseases in the communities.

However, researchers from the University of Mines and Techonology in Tarkwa say the findings are not credible.

Lead researcher at the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis, Samuel Obiri said their study showed that the amount of chemicals used  by miners in the area, such as arsenic, mercury, lead among other harmful chemicals were found to be higher than the World Health Organization permissible values, exposing the people to the risk.

“The issue about mining impacting negatively on the environment is not an issue that must be debated because there is a lot of scientific documents that show mining processes put a lot of toxic substances into the environment,” he said.

But Vice Chancellor of the University of Mines and Technology, in Tarkwa, Prof. Jerry Sam Kuma, downplayed the findings of the human risk assessment studies.

According to him, the research he has undertaken revealed the two communities were safe from activities of the mining companies and has called for a rejection of the studies by the Center for Environmental Impact Analysis.

He said flaws in the studies by the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis were so serious that they cast doubt on its credibility.

But countering the argument, another researcher from the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis, Hannah Koranteng said some figures in Mr Kuma’s study were also “problematic”.

She said some figures quoted by Mr Kuma in his study were also not accurate.

“Which levels of arsenic is safe beyond the WHO levels. Because I know that the WHO levels is 0.01 per milligram per litre. So if a research is quoting 0.137 milligrams per litre and that water is potable, then I am lost,” she said of Mr Kuma’s studies.

The Ghana Chamber of Mines, which opened discussions on a human health risk assessment report Wednesday, said the study from the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis, lacked basic research elements.

The Chamber said the lack of elements such as sample size and location made the study from the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis difficult to accept. Story by Ghana | | George Nyavor | [email protected]

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