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Historical Mining Areas and Their Influence on Human Health

Author(s): Stanislav Rapant, Veronika Cvečková, Katarína Fajčíková, Milan Kohút, Darina Sedláková

Aims: Impact of potentially toxic elements (PTE) on the health status of population of the Slovak Republic has been studied in two historical mining areas with ore extraction from Middle Ages (the Middle Slovak Neovolcanics, the Slovak Ore Mts.) and one historical mining area with more than hundred years brown coal mining (Upper Nitra region).

Methods: The contents of PTE were analysed in groundwater/ drinking water and soils. The health status of resident population was evaluated based on 43 health indicators classified according to the international classification of diseases (ICD, 10th revision), including mainly those indicators characterizing mortality on cardiovascular and oncological diseases. In these areas the health status of population living in municipalities with increased PTE contents (As, Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd, Hg and Sb) was compared with that in adjacent municipalities showing low PTE contents.

Results: A total of 138 contaminated and 155 noncontaminated municipalities of similar socioeconomic, natural and geochemical-geological character were compared. PTE contents in soils of polluted municipalities reported considerably increased levels – between 2 to 10 times higher in contrast to non-contaminated municipalities. On the other hand, PTE contents in groundwater were almost identical both in contaminated as well as noncontaminated areas and in majority of cases were below limit standard values for drinking water.

Conclusion: Based on the assessment of the health status of population (using 43 health indicators), no significant difference in the health status of population in contaminated and non-contaminated municipalities has been reported.


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