Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 203–218 | Cite as

Trace elements distributions at Datoko-Shega artisanal mining site, northern Ghana

  • Emmanuel Arhin
  • Apea Ohene Boansi
  • M. S. Zango
Original Paper


Environmental geochemistry classifies elements into essential, non-essential and toxic elements in relationship to human health. To assess the environmental impact of mining at Datoko-Shega area, the distributions and concentrations of trace elements in stream sediments and soil samples were carried out. X-ray fluorescence analytical technique was used to measure the major and trace element concentrations in sediments and modified fire assay absorption spectrometry in soils. The results showed general depletion of major elements except titanium oxide (TiO2) compared to the average crustal concentrations. The retention of TiO2 at the near surface environment probably was due to the intense tropical weathering accompanied by the removal of fine sediments and soil fractions during the harmattan season by the dry north-east trade winds and sheet wash deposits formed after flash floods. The results also showed extreme contamination of selenium (Se), cadmium (Cd) and mercury (Hg), plus strong contaminations of arsenic (As) and chromium (Cr) in addition to moderate contamination of lead (Pb) in the trace element samples relative to crustal averages in the upper continental crust. However Hg, Pb and Cd concentrations tend to be high around the artisanal workings. It was recognised from the analysis of the results that the artisanal mining activity harnessed and introduces some potentially toxic elements such as Hg, Cd and Pb mostly in the artisan mine sites. But the interpretation of the trace element data thus invalidates the elevation of As concentrations to be from the mine operations. It consequently noticed As values in the mine-impacted areas to be similar or sometimes lower than As values in areas outside the mine sites from the stream sediment results.


Mining Elevated concentrations Exposure Epidemiology Depletion Health 



This paper is one of the several medical geology researches aimed at preventing many of the primary health diseases emanating from geological processes by the Ghana Chapter of Medical Geology Association. The authors wish to thank the International Medical Geology Association (IMGA) for their moral support but wish that financial support will be available for the next phase of the research. We are grateful also to Veritas Ebiyatakyi and Samson Boadi for helping in sample collection and GIS work. Those whose names are not mentioned but contributed one way or the other we say big thank you.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emmanuel Arhin
    • 1
  • Apea Ohene Boansi
    • 1
  • M. S. Zango
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Applied SciencesUniversity for Development StudiesNavrongoGhana

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