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Evaluation of Sources and Options for Possible Clean up of Anthropogenic Mercury Contamination in the Ankobra River Basin in South Western Ghana

Author(s): Thomas Mba Akabzaa | Sandow Mark Yidana

Journal: Journal of Environmental Protection
ISSN 2152-2197

Volume: 02;
Issue: 10;
Start page: 1295;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Ankobra Basin | Mercury Contamination | Clean-up | Old Tailings | Sediments | Water

The study assesses the spatial distribution and sources of mercury contamination in the Ankobra River Basin in southwestern Ghana and discusses possible remediation options and challenges. Eighty-two (82) samples of water and streambed sediments from areas of active and historic artisanal mining and historic mine spoil from large-scale mining were analysed for their total mercury content using cold vapour Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry (CV-AAS). The highest Hg concentrations were recorded from historic mine tailings, legacy of large scale mines in the area, which averaged 795 ppb but ranged from 80 ppb to 2500 ppb. Concentrations in streambed sediments averaged 139 ppb, but ranged from 63 ppb to 270 ppb. Water, expectedly, gave the lowest Hg concentrations with a mean value of 1.5 ppb, but ranged from below detection to 8 ppb. Areas worked by artisanal miners and historic tailings dumps at Bondaye and Prestea recorded the highest mercury values. These high mercury concentration sites constitute potential sources of major mercury pollution in the area and therefore require major and urgent clean up to mitigate any major health risks. However, any remediation strategy would require further and detailed study of the contaminated sites and an evaluation of known remediation techniques to achieve maximum results.
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