Environmental and toenail metals concentrations in copper mining and non mining communities in Zambia
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Natural Sciences/Centre for Ecosystem Management
Copper mining contributes to increased concentrations of metals in the environment, thereby increasing the risk of metals exposure to populations living in and around mining areas. This study investigated environmental and toenail metals concentrations of non-occupational human exposure to metals in 39 copper-mining town residents and 47 non-mining town residents in Zambia. Elevated environmental concentrations were found in samples collected from the mining town residents. Toenail concentrations of cobalt (GM 1.39 mg/kg), copper (GM 132 mg/kg), lead (21.41 mg/kg) selenium (GM 0.38 mg/kg) and zinc (GM 113 mg/kg) were significantly higher in the mining area and these metals have previously been associated with copper mining. Residence in the mining area, drinking water, dust and soil metals concentrations were the most important contributors to toenail metals concentrations. Further work is required to establish the specific pathways of exposure and the health risks of elevated metals concentrations in the copper mining area.