Mining Africa's Health | Child Labor, Lead Poisoning and Accidents
Artisanal and Small-scale mining (ASM) refers to unlawful mining in Africa and other countries by miners using low technology or minimal mining machinery usually under dangerous conditions.
|Workers in artisanal |
and small-scale mine photo by WHO
Youth unemployment for ages 15-24 without work but available for and seeking employment is a 2013 average of 16.7 percent in Africa with South Africa having the most at 53.6 percent and Rwanda at .7 percent.
People are drawn to ASM’s in Africa for the potential of making a lot of money quickly similar to the California gold rush miners from 1848-1855 in the United States.
|Artisanal and Small-scale mining photo by WHO|
In the town of Bagega, Nigeria there were an estimated 1,500 children exposed to lead poisoning. In both cases the lead poisoning was due to extraction of mercury-gold amalgam with high lead content. Even if lead poisoning is treated, effective treatment is not available if people continue to live in contaminated areas and practice unsafe mining and ore processing activities.
Children under five are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning, and they are most at risk for severe illness and death. Children are closer to the ground often crawling and getting laden lead dust on their hands, which then ends up being ingested as they eat put their hands in their mouths.