Placer Small-scale Gold Mining and Occupational Exposure to Heavy Metals in Soil in Myanmar
Heavy metal exposure is one of the serious health issues worldwide. In Myanmar, there are many local gold mining sites where many miners are exposed to heavy metals and may receive adverse health effects through mining processes. This study investigates the steps in placer gold mining of local mining sites in Banmauk Township, Myanmar. In addition, the exposure to heavy metals in the soil from each placer gold mining step was also evaluated: ore processing, sluicing, panning and amalgamation. A questionnaire and observations were used to explore the processes involved in local placer gold mining and identify the exposed body parts to heavy metals. The results showed that the percentages for each exposed body part of the miners were 100% for forearms, hands and feet, 94% for lowers legs, and 13% for the whole body. In addition, most of the body parts of the miners were exposed to heavy metals in the soil during ore processing. Furthermore, approximately 79% of the participants in this study had never used any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) while working. The resulting data on placer gold mining processes and the exposure percentages of body to heavy metals in the mining soil can be used in the future to create a database on occupational risks in Myanmar.
Keywords - Exposure to Soil, Heavy Metals, Mining, Myanmar