Browsing Environmental Health by Title
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Outbreak of Fatal Childhood Lead Poisoning Related to Artisanal Gold Mining in Northwestern Nigeria, 2010.Background: In May 2010, a team of national and international organizations was assembled to investigate children's deaths due to lead poisoning in villages in northwestern Nigeria. Objectives: To determine the cause of the childhood lead poisoning outbreak, investigate risk factors for child mortality, and identify children aged <5 years in need of emergency chelation therapy for lead poisoning. Methods: We administered a cross-sectional, door-to-door questionnaire in two affected villages, collected blood from children aged 2-59 months, and soil samples from family compounds. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were performed with survey, blood-lead, and environmental data. Multivariate logistic regression techniques were used to determine risk factors for childhood mortality. Results: We surveyed 119 family compounds. One hundred eighteen of 463 (25%) children aged <5 years had died in the last year. We tested 59% (204/345) of children, aged <5 years, and all were lead poisoned (≥10 µg/dL); 97% (198/204) of children had blood-lead levels ≥45 µg/dL, the threshold for initiating chelation therapy. Gold ore was processed inside two-thirds of the family compounds surveyed. In multivariate modeling significant risk factors for death in the previous year from suspected lead poisoning included: the child's age, the mother performing ore-processing activities, community well as primary water source, and the soil-lead concentration in the compound. Conclusion: The high levels of environmental contamination, percentage of children aged <5 years with elevated blood-lead levels (97%, >45 µg/dL), and incidence of convulsions among children prior to death (82%) suggest that most of the recent childhood deaths in the two surveyed villages were caused by acute lead poisoning from gold ore-processing activities. Control measures included environmental remediation, chelation therapy, public health education, and control of mining activities.
Reducing Lead and Silica Dust Exposures in Small-Scale Mining in Northern Nigeria.An ongoing health crisis across a large area of Northern Nigeria has resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of cases of lead poisoning from artisanal small-scale gold mining. Occupational Knowledge International (OK International) and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have formed a partnership to conduct a pilot project to introduce safer mining practices in selected communities. The primary objective was to reduce lead exposures among artisanal small-scale miners and minimize take home exposures by reducing dust contamination on clothing and body surfaces.
Safe Water for the Aral Sea Area: Could it get Any Worse?The environmental adversities around the Aral Sea in Central Asia have been the subject of recent research. Attempts at sustainable provision of palatable drinking water in low chemical and microbial contaminants for the 4 million people in the two countries around the Aral littoral have been largely unsuccessful. In the last few years, severe drought has further depleted the amount of available water. This shortage has negatively impacted on agriculture, and accentuated the out migration of people. An appeal is made to assist the local population in this arid area to cope with the acute and chronic deterioration of water security.
What is the relationship of medical humanitarian organisations with mining and other extractive industries?Philippe Calain discusses the health and environmental hazards of extractive industries like mining and explores the tensions that arise when medical humanitarian organizations are called to intervene in emergencies involving the extractive sector.