Comparative Assessment of Heavy Metals in Drinking Water Sources in Two Small-Scale Mining Communities in Northern Ghana

August 2015

This study assessed levels of heavy metals in drinking water sources in two small-scale mining communities (Nangodi and Tinga) in northern Ghana. 

The study assessed levels of heavy metals in drinking water sources in two small-scale mining communities (Nangodi and Tinga) in northern Ghana. Seventy-two (72) water samples were collected from boreholes, hand dug wells, dug-out, and a stream in the two mining communities. The levels of mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), and cadmium (Cd) were determined using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS). Mean levels (mg/l) of heavy metals in water samples from Nangodi and Tinga communities were 0.038 and 0.064 (Hg), 0.031 and 0.002 (As), 0.250 and 0.031 (Pb), 0.034 and 0.002 (Zn), and 0.534 and 0.023 (Cd), respectively, for each community. Generally, levels of Hg, As, Pb, Zn, and Cd in water from Nangodi exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) stipulated limits of 0.010 for Hg, As, and Pb, 3.0 for Zn and 0.003 for Cd for drinking water, and levels of Hg, Pb, and Cd recorded in Tinga, exceeded the stipulated WHO limits. Ingestion of water, containing elevated levels of Hg, As, and Cd by residents in these mining communities may pose significant health risks. Continuous monitoring of the quality of drinking water sources in these two communities is recommended.