Levels of arsenic and mercury in human blood from Tarkwa and its environs, a mining area in Wassa West District of Ghana
This paper examines the levels of Hg and As in blood samples of inhabitants of Tarkwa and its environs, a mining impacted area in contrast with the populations of Akatsi and its environs, a non-mining impacted area. Blood samples were analysed for arsenic (As) and mercury (Hg) using instrumental neutron activation analysis. The prepared samples were irradiated at a thermal neutron flux of 5x1011n cm-2s-1 using the Ghana Research Rector-1. An independent one- tailed student t-test was used to compare the means of both the experimental and the control subjects in order to establish the statistical significant differences between the two groups. The level of probability at which significant differences existed between the groups was set at p< 0.05 at 95% confidence level). Mercury in blood samples in the experimental subjects ranged from 0.01- 0.70 μg/mL, with a mean of 0.08 μg/mL. Mercury in the control subjects ranged from 0.01-2.38 μg/g, with a mean of 0.12 μg/mL. Arsenic levels in blood in the experimental subjects ranged from 0.02-5.82 μg/mL, with a mean of 0.67 μg/mL. Arsenic in control subjects ranged from 0.01-0.37 μg/mL with a mean of 0.04 μg/mL. The measurement precision specified by the relative standard deviation was within±3%. The results showed no statistical significant difference between the level of Hg in both the experimental and the control subjects, implying the level of Hg in the experimental subjects could not be attributed to the mining activities in the area. However, statistical differences were observed between the levels in the experimental samples and that of the control group (p=6.71×10-6>0.05) implying the level observed in the experimental
group could be due to the mining activities in the area.
Keywords: arsenic level, mercury level, human blood, blood samples
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