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High blood lead levels and perceived societal and health issues amongst juvenile illegal miners: A call for multisectoral action.
1  University of Johannesburg
Academic Editor: Roberto Verna


The paper reports the blood lead levels amongst illegal juveniles miners and their perception of the role of illegal mining on societal and health issues. Ninety illegal miners aged between 14 and 19 years with the mean age of 17 years old. The blood lead mean was 15.58 µg/dL in the sampled population. Those that were involved in both going underground and draining the gold had higher blood lead levels (mean=26.03 µg/dL). Sixteen (84%) participants believed that being involved in illegal mining may lead to adverse health and they were concerned about injury due to violence. All participants believe that illegal mining-related activities contaminate the environment, yet all of them have conducted the same activities in their yard or household. It is safer and the need for running water to retrieve the gold. The majority of the illegal miners are aware of the danger of the chemicals used to get the gold. Out of 19, only two have ever received some sort of personal protective clothing/equipment. The others had to fend for themselves. The study findings highlight and raise critical public health, social and criminal issues. Therefore, there’s a need for multisectoral action especially the inclusion of public health.

Keywords: blood lead levels; illegal mining; juveniles; child labour; societal problems; health issues; Environmental health.