Daily Archives: January 28, 2015

Heavy Metals Exposure After Mineral Exploration, Peru

Astete J, Gastañaga Mdel C, Pérez D. [Levels of heavy metals in the environment and population exposure after five years of mineral exploration in the Las Bambas project, Peru 2010]. Revista peruana de medicina experimental y salud pública. 2014 Dec;31(4):695-701. [Article in Spanish]

Objectives. Determine particulate matter (PM10) and heavy metals concentrations in the environment, as well as in surrounding communities of the Las Bambas project after five years of mineral exploration.

Materials and methods. A comparative cross-sectional study was conducted in three districts in the area of influence of the Las Bambas project in Apurimac, Peru. Samples of water, air and soil were obtained to determine the concentrations of PM10 and heavy metals. Blood and urine samples were taken from 310 villagers to evaluate levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. Results were compared with those obtained in 2005.

Results. Environmental concentrations of PM10 and heavy metals did not exceed the established reference values. The quality of drinking water and soil was not altered. Compared to the values found in 2005, the 2010 average levels of cadmium and mercury in urine increased significantly in the population of the districts of Chalhuahuacho (2.4 + 0.8 and 2.6 + 0.4), El Progreso (2.6 + 1.1 and 2.9 + 1.3) and Haquira (3.2 + 1.2 and 2.6 + 0.9). Cadmium values exceeded permissible limits.

Conclusions. After five years of mineral exploration activity, environmental characteristics of the areas of influence of the Las Bambas mining project, have not been affected. However, changes are observed in the levels and percentage of people with cadmium in their urine.

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