Spatial Distribution of Mercury and Arsenic Levels in Water, Soil and Cassava Plants in a Community with Long History of Gold Mining in Tanzania

  • Elias C. Nyanza
  • Deborah Dewey
  • Deborah S. K. Thomas
  • Mark Davey
  • Sospatro E. Ngallaba
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00128-014-1315-5

Cite this article as:
Nyanza, E.C., Dewey, D., Thomas, D.S.K. et al. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol (2014) 93: 716. doi:10.1007/s00128-014-1315-5

Abstract

This study examined the spatial distribution of total mercury (THg) and total arsenic (TAs) in water, soil and cassava (Manihot esculenta) (leaves and roots) samples taken from areas in Rwamagasa village in northwestern Tanzania where daily living activities occur in close proximity to extensive artisanal and small scale gold mining. Results indicated that 33.3 % of the water sources had THg levels above the WHO guideline of 1.0 µg/L for safe drinking water, and 12.5 % had TAs levels above 10 µg/L. Cassava leaves were found to have higher THg (ranging from 8.3 to 167 µg/kg) and TAs (ranging from 60 to 1,120 µg/kg) levels than cassava roots, which ranged between 1.2–8.3 µg/kg for THg and 25–310 µg/kg for TAs. Concentrations of THg and TAs in soil samples ranged between 5.8–1,759 and 183–20,298 µg/kg, respectively. Both THg and TAs were found to be distributed throughout Rwamagasa village.

Keywords

Mercury Arsenic Artisanal gold mining Contamination Spatial distribution 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elias C. Nyanza
    • 1
  • Deborah Dewey
    • 2
  • Deborah S. K. Thomas
    • 3
  • Mark Davey
    • 4
  • Sospatro E. Ngallaba
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Public HealthCatholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, BugandoMwanzaTanzania
  2. 2.Departments of Pediatrics and Community Health SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA
  4. 4.Exploration UnitTwigg Gold LimitedMwanzaTanzania