Illegal mining also called “Galamsey” has been found to be the cause of quadrupling kidney cases in Ghana in the last decade, a Specialist at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital has revealed.
Dr Elliot Koranteng Tannor attributed the cause of quadrupling kidney cases to the use of mercury and cyanide linked to galamsey in Ghana. He said this on Accra-based Adom Fm.
According to him, these chemicals are major triggers of not only kidney diseases but others when they get into the system indicating that persons in mining areas are at major risk.
“I have some patients who are coming from mining areas. We wonder if the chemicals they are exposed to could be a major reason why some of these cases are rising. We believe the chemicals used for mining including Mercury and Cyanide, one way or the other, they get exposed to it, it goes through their skin, they inhale it and sometimes from the water bodies when they drink it gets into their bodies.
“When the level keeps going up over a period of time, you will realize that it would have an effect not only on the kidney. It can affect the kidney, it can affect the heart and it can even affect the nerves. If the levels are toxic then we know these effects can happen. It is over a period of time. The more you have exposed the higher the risk of being affected”, he revealed.
The Nephrologist explained that not only persons who are from mining areas could be exposed to kidney diseases but persons who drink water polluted through the use of Mercury and Cyanide during mining.
The doctor urged Ghanaians to be cautious of the water they drink in order not to be at a high risk of contracting kidney diseases.
Not only do mercury and cyanide affect the kidney they can also affect The nervous system because it is very sensitive to mercury. Permanent damage to the brain has been shown to occur from exposure to sufficiently high levels of metallic mercury, the kind associated with galamsey.
The kidneys are also sensitive to the effects of mercury, because mercury accumulates in the kidneys and causes higher exposures to these tissues, and thus more damage.