A.Voght, B. Pesch, T. Lyesnykh, R. Rautiu, V. Troitsky, D. Magazanik, C. Mambetova, A. Tabyshalieva, E. Cordos, C. Roman, A. Ozunu, I. Bocsan, M. Vlad, A. Sinca, U. Ranft., The Risk of Cyanide in Gold Leaching on Health and Environment, European Epimarker, 7/3 (2003) 1-7. 


Title: The Risk of Cyanide in Gold Leaching on Health and Environment

Abstract: Gold deposits are an important economic  resource of Central Europa and Asia. Sodium cyanide (NaCN)is commonly applied to leach gold from low-grade ores by the so-called"Cyanide Leaching Gold Recovery"process which generates a considerable waste stream of CN-loaded tailings CN incidents have frequently occurred during transport of NaCN to the mine site and due to failures of pipelines and tailing ponds.The project IRCYL is outlined to "lnvestigat  the Risk of Cyanide in Gold Leaching on Health and Environment in Central Asia and Central Eurooe" with the incidents in Kyrgyzstan (Barskoon) in 1998 and in Romania (Baia Mare) in 2000 serving as examples. The project focuses on four objectives to: investigate the impact on health by means of an epidemiological survey of the populations at risk, to develop guidelines for CN disaster management to evaluate and Communicate the risks of gold extraction technologies and to assess the ecological impact of the incidents also w ith respect to environmental po licy. Here we report about the cross-sectional survey conducted in 2001 to investigate 307children aged 5 to 10 years and 600 women aged 2 0-65 years in the Barskoon area and 153 children and 306 women from the Baia Mare region. Central question has been the evaluation of the health status that could increase the baseline r skf or exposure to CN, which acts as highly toxic cellular asphyxiant. Special emphasis was laid on parameters concerning the oxygens upply and internal  respiration. Among 226 Kyrgyz women in reproductive age (20-45 years) 45% showed haemoglobin (Hb) values less than12g /dL. One aut of seven  had been pregnant at incident. A total of 27% of Kyrgyz and 23% of Romanian children had Hb levels below 11.5 g /dL. High exposure  levels to heavy metals could be demonstrate in Romanian soil and blood samples. In the Romanian s udy population,46% of children and 40%  of women showed blood lead levels ( BLL) above10µg/dL Lead may have an adverse impact on heme synthesis.  Our results showed a weak inverse correlation between BLL and Hb (p < 0.1).The average urinary concentration of thiocyanate, which is the main metabolite of CN, was about 10 mg/L and thus higher than reported for nonsmokers, but established  reference and alert values are not available. The survey data  characterise the study population as ssusceptible to the impact of CN with respect to preconditions mainly due to poverty or malnutrition(K yrgyzstan) and the historical pollution with mining waste  (Romania). In addition, IRCYL has investigated the management of the disasters. Aut comes have been entered into a Web site, providing also links to Internet resources about CN and disaster  management. Disaster  preparedness should be fostered by an array of means, especially under the control of the financiers, to overwhelm the still existing shortcomings in resources and infrastructure, hazard control, as well as in spill report and risk communication.

Key words: cyanide, health, environment, CN

Author: E.Cordoş

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