R. G. Abrefah, D. K. Adotey, E. Mensimah, E. Ampomah-Amoako, R. B. M. Sogbadji and N. S Opata
44used to estimate exposure, since the main route of excretion is via kidneys (WHO 1981). The actual dosemay vary to a great extent between individuals due tovariations in the burden of work, which will influencethe rate of respiration, and due to exposure via other routes, such as ingestion or skin absorption. The totalarsenic content in urine is greatly influenced bydietary intake of organic arsenic compounds, mainlyarsenobetaine, which may be present in very highconcentrations in certain fish species and crustaceans(Buchet et al. 1981a, Cannon et al. 1981, Luten et al.1982,
Momplaisir et al. 1991), and which is rapidlyexcreted in the urine (Freeman et al. 1979, Tam et al.1982, Vahter et al. 1983). Consequently, urinesamples were collected from the mine workers after 2-day abstinence from sea foods.Although dental amalgams are a primary sourceof elemental mercury exposure in the general population, dietary mercury exposure from high fishconsumption may contribute to urinary mercury levels(Abe et al. 1995, Suzuki et al. 1993). The urinesamples analyzed were collected after 2-dayabstinence from sea foods of the workers and of thosewith no dental amalgam fillings. Analytical methodsreported used for arsenic determination in urineinclude: hydride generation atomic absorptionspectrometry (HG-AAS), hydride generation atomicflourescence spectrometry (HG
inductivelycoupled plasma/mass spectrometry (ICPMS) and
-spectrometry of the
As-induced radionuclide ininstrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA). Theanalytical techniques proposed for the measurementof mercury in urine includes cold vapour atomicabsorption spectrometry (CVAAS), hydridegeneration atomic absorption spectrometry (HG-AAS) and
-spectrometry of the
Hg -inducedradionuclide in instrumental neutron activationanalysis (INAA). The present study investigated theTAs and THg levels in the urine of differentcategories of goldmine workers in SouthwesternGhana.The aim of the study is to determine whether occupational exposure substantially contributes to theoverall exposure of the mine workers to arsenic andmercury based on the individual’s work area withinthe mine.. In addition, the study will provide data onthe levels of TAs and THg with the eventual goal of establishing reference levels specifically for Ghanaiangold mine workers.
Materials and methods
Sample irradiations for neutronactivation analysis were carried out in the 30 kWMiniature neutron source reactor (MNSR) at aneutron flux of 5 x 10
. The reactor is situated at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission,Kwabenya, Accra, Ghana.
Urine samples were collected from60 mine workers for the study. The urine wascollected from workers after 2-day abstinence fromsea foods, and from workers with no dental amalgamfillings. Both ‘high’ and exposure groups weredefined based on individual's work area. The urinesamples of workers were collected over a period of 24h into 2.5 L polypropylene sampling vessels withscrew caps. After collection, the samples were storedin a cold icebox and transported to our laboratory.Finally the samples were kept in a refrigerator at -20ºC before use.
Prior to arsenic andmercury analyses, urine samples were thawed, 1.0 mLwas transferred to a vial.The polyethylene vials wereturned upside down a few times to thoroughly mix theurine and to ensure that a uniform and representativesample was obtained. This was immediately followed by pipetting 500 mg of the urine into polyethyleneirradiation vial (diameter 1.2 cm and height 2.35cm).The vial was heat-sealed. Single standard elementssolutions of arsenic (10 µg g
) and mercury (20 µg g
) were then prepared in the same manner as the urinesamples. The irradiation vials containing the samplesand standards were then placed into a bigger irradiation vial (diameter 1.6cm and height 5.5cm)and heat-sealed (double encapsulation). Two standardreference materials with certified values for As andHg were used to validate the INAA method. Thereference materials were: NIST SRM 3133 (Hgstandard solution, 10 mg g
Hg); NIST SRM 3103a(As standard solution, 8 mg g
As). The standardreference materials were obtained from the NationalInstitute of Standards and Technology (NIST),Gaithersburg, MD, USA; the values are represented inTable 1
Table 1. Results for validation of INAA method for As and Hg determination
Standard reference materialConcentration of As (mg g
As)Concentration of Hg (mg g
Measurement NIST SRM 3133 (Hg standard solution)
1010.84 ± 2.69
NIST SRM 3103a (As standard solution)
9.23 ± 1.19
Sample irradiation and counting.
Samples andstandards were transferred into the reactor via the pneumatic transfer system at a pressure of 0.6 mPa.The urine samples were irradiated for 1 hour. At theend of the irradiation, the samples and standards wereremoved from the reactor and allowed to decay for 24-36 hours. The small irradiation vial containing theradioactive urine sample was placed on the coaxialhigh purity germanium (HPGe) semi-conductor
-raydetector (Canberra) and the
-activity of the induced