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Mercury exposure and associated reported menstrual disorders among women in artisanal and small scale gold mining in Nyang’hwale district, Geita, Tanzania

MOJ Public Health
Shuku C Kaishwa,1 Simon Mamuya,1 Jane Mlimbila2

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Background: Out of the workers involved in small scale mining activities in Tanzania, women are 30-50%. Normally use mercury to recover gold from the ores. This practice may cause a wide range of health impacts including reproductive defects in reproductive hormone and an ovulation which may result to menstrual disorders in women working in artisanal and small scale gold mining.
Objective: The study aimed to assess occupational exposure to mercury and associated menstrual disorders among women working in artisanal and small scale gold mining in Nyang’hwale District, Geita.
Materials and methods: The study was descriptive cross sectional study design. Simple random sampling technique was used to obtain 170 of women working in ASGM and 99 of women who were teaching primary schools. Data on the proportion of menstrual disorder were collected using face to face administered questionnaire and analyzed using descriptive statistics. The Chi square test and Binary logistic regression were performed for association between mercury exposure and menstrual disorders. 95% confidence Interval expressed in P = 0.05 or P?0.05 was used. CVAAS was used to analyze mercury concentration level in urine. 
Results: The mean Age of the participants was 33.6 ± SD and the mean of menarche age was 15.26 ± SD. The proportion of menstrual disorders in the exposed group was significant higher than that in the non exposed group (OR 1.5; 95% CI 1.160 – 1. 876 and P= 0.001). The proportion of menstrual disorders in exposed group was (67%) and non exposed group (46%). The proportion of dysmenorrhea in the exposed group was found statistical significant higher than that in the non exposed group (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.579 – 4.489 and P= 0.0001) and the proportion was (38%). The mean mercury levels in urine were 41.3ug/L for exposed group and 2.04ug/l for non exposed group respectively. Out of 21 urine samples, 6 (28.6%) exceeded the Maximum World Health Organization (WHO) acceptable level of 50 ug/L.
Conclusion and recommendation: The findings generalized that women who are exposed to occupational mercury have higher risk to report the problems of menstrual disorders. The district council stakeholders should create awareness to mining community, that mercury used for amalgamation process to extract gold may be associated with menstrual disorders and other reproductive health defects among the women working or living nearby the mining areas.


mercury exposure, menstrual disorders, artisanal and small scale gold mining, Tanzania, mining, community, amalgamation, reproductive, health, women, dysmenorrhea, descriptive, statistics, proportion, concentration