Environmental Health Risk Assessment Due to Exposure to Mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Area of Lebak District

  •  Arinil Haq    
  •  Umar Fahmi Achmadi    
  •  Anwar Mallongi    


In Indonesia it is estimated that there are around 250,000 artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and generally use mercury for amalgamation process and then release it to the environment during gold refining process. This study aims to analyze mercury levels in the environment around ASGM in Lebaksitu Sub-District, Lebak District, Banten Province and identify hazardous exposure that may occur. The study design used was descriptive observational with Environmental Health Risk Assessment (EHRA) method. Environmental data taken include water and food samples. Social-demographic and dietary interviews were conducted. The study population was 72 residents of Lebaksitu Sub-District obtained through sample size formula and selected by simple random sampling. The study was conducted from April to May 2017. Exposure assessment is an important part of risk assessment. Exposure is a process that causes contact with environmental hazards such as risk agents, as a bridge connecting 'hazards' to 'risks'. Exposure analysis needs to consider all routes (inhalation, ingestion, absorption) and media (air, water, soil, food, drinking water) so that the total intake can be calculated. Exposure route analysis usually generate a critical pathway, the dominant exposure path. This pathway concerns which environmental media is the vehicle of risk agent and how it enters the body. Once a critical pathway is found, other possibility pathways contribution may be small and can be ignored. Mercury is a toxic pollutant that bioaccumulated and biomagnetic continuously through the food chain. The levels of mercury at the research sites on rice, fish, and vegetables have average of 0.027 mg/kg; 0.283 mg/kg; and 0.410 mg/kg. The calculation of risk assessment obtained value of risk quotient (RQ) of 3.79 (RQ>1). The results of this calculation of risk assessment showed that mercury content in samples of rice, fish, and vegetables originating from Lebaksitu Sub-District potentially cause a health risk for the community surrounding the gold mining area who consume it.

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