Arsenic and mercury levels in human hairs and nails from gold mining areas in Wassa West district of Ghana

  • Y Serfor-Armah
  • BV Samlafo
  • PO Yeboah

Abstract

Hair and nail samples obtained from inhabitants of Wassa West District, a major gold mining area in Ghana, were analysed for arsenic (As) and mercury (Hg) using instrumental neutron activation analysis. The samples were irradiated at a thermal neutron flux of 5 x 10P11 Pn cmP-2P sP-1P using the Ghana Research Reactor. Concentrati-on of Hg in the hairs ranged from 1.65 to 20.46 μg/g, which were below World health Organization (WHO) recommended level of 50.00 μg/gP Pfor human hair. Mercury concentrations in human nail samples ranged from 0.97 to 31.94 μg/g. Arsenic concentrations in human hairs ranged from 0.07 to 0.95 μg/g, while the levels in nail samples ranged from 0.08 to 3.90 μg/g. Generally, levels of As in the hair were less than WHO recommended value of 1.00 μg/g, however, the levels of As in 5 nail samples (FNB11B, FNB20B, FNB28B, TNB9B and TNB16B) were above the maximum WHO value of 1.08μg/g. The measurement precision specified by the relative standard deviation was within ± 3 %. The accuracy of determination evaluated by analysing certified standard human hair reference material GBW 09101 was within ± 4 % of the certified value. The levels of As in hair and nail samples of the experimental group were generally higher as compared to the control subject. Similarly, Hg levels in the hair and nail samples in experimental group were also higher compared to the control subject. However, the levels of the toxic elements determined were all below WHO recommended values.
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