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ICMGP 2022 – On-Demand / Poster Presentation

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Abstract Title: Educational interventions and access to improved technology as a means to reduce mercury exposure for ASGM communities in Senegal
Presenter Name: Arabella Chen
Company/Institution: Duke University
Session: Mercury in Artisanal Gold Mining
Co-Authors: Arabella Chen,Jacqueline Gerson,Falaye Danfakha Danfakha,Emily Bernhardt

Abstract Information :

Two of the most important and persistent challenges in reducing mercury usage in ASGM communities are that of effective educational interventions and increased accessibility to improved technologies (e.g., mercury-capture devices, mercury-free extraction techniques). While there have been many educational interventions and equipment distributions in ASGM communities globally, few have led to adaptation of technologies that reduced people?s exposure to Hg. Here, we analyzed the effects of intensive trainings and distribution of retorts (mercury-capture device) through pre- and post- intervention surveys. Trainings were conducted in local languages by trusted community members using simple graphics illustrating the dangers of mercury and alternative extraction methods. Retorts were constructed by local metalworkers and made available in community shops. Nine communities were divided into three groups: control, education only, and education + retort distribution. We found that both training and the provision of retorts led to the largest increase in knowledge about retorts and the dangers of mercury, while also reducing mercury use. Surprisingly, we found that control villages also had increased knowledge and decreased Hg use, suggesting a potential social overflow effect of the intervention. These results indicate that the graphics-based and community oriented educational approach accompanied by increased access to mercury-capture equipment provides a strong foundation for reducing mercury exposure of artisanal gold miners and community members.

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