A Preliminary Study on Mercury Contamination in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Area in Mandalay Region, Myanmar by using Plant Samples

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 457-4 Motoyama, Kamigamo, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8047, Japan

2 Graduate School of Environmental and Symbiotic Science, Prefectural University of Kumamoto, 3-1-100, Tsukide, Higashi-ku, Kumamoto, 862-8502, Japan

3 Environmental Quality and Standard Division (EQS), Environmental Conservation Department (Head Office), No-53/58, Environmental Conservation Department, Ottara Thiri Township, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 15015

4 Pollution Control Division (PCD), Environmental Conservation Department (Mandalay Region), Asia Bank Street, Amarapura Township, Mandalay, Myanmar, 100106

5 Pollution Control Division (PCD), Environmental Conservation Department (ECD), No-53/58, Environmental Conservation Department, Ottara Thiri Township, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 15015

6 Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 457-4 Motoyama, Kamigamo, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8047, Japan Faculty of collaborative regional innovation, Ehime University, 3 Bunkyo-cho, Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, 790-8577, Japan


A large anthropogenic source of mercury pollution is mercury-dependent artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). Thabeikkyin Township is a small-scale gold mining township located in Pyin Oo Lwin District in the Mandalay Region, Myanmar. The villages of Thabeikkyin Township engage in gold ore crushing, screening, refining, and other mining activities for a living. Miners in this area commonly use mercury for gold recovery by heating amalgam at their homes, gold shops, on the street, and near the riverbank. The evaporated mercury is released into the atmosphere during the heating process and then transported and deposited in the surrounding environments, resulting in the mercury pollution of air, water, soil, etc. To assess atmospheric mercury pollution, a preliminary study on the environmental mercury contamination from ASGM was conducted in Thabeikkyin Township. High mercury concentrations were observed in plant samples collected near the refining sites, ranging 0.33–6.51 ug/g, compared with 0.02 ug/g in Wet Thay Village, where no mercury use was reported. Correlation coefficients between Hg and other heavy metals showed that no heavy metal concentration significantly correlated with that of Hg. The results indicated that the atmospheric environment in the ASGM area of Thabeikkyin Township was contaminated with mercury originating from ASGM, which could very likely deteriorate the health of surrounding residents.


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