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The IUP Journal of Physics :
Characterization of Lead Poisoning Gold Ores from North Western Nigeria Using PIXE Technique
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Proton induced x-Ray emission (PIXE) was utilized to characterize Lead (Pb) and other elements in gold ores from North Western Nigeria. This research work was occasioned by the recent Pb poisoning in some parts of Nigeria. Fourteen samples were collected, prepared to a scale interrogated by this technique, then analyzed at the Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD)ís accelerator, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. After activation, the spectrums generated from the samples revealed that lead concentration ranged several thousand times above the norm (6.60 ppm) in the gold ores.

 
 

Since March 2010, North Western Nigeria has been in the news repeatedly for Lead (Pb) poisoning occurrences. This is a source of concern for the Nigerian government and for the World Health Organization (WHO). This poisoning (though prominent in Zamfara state as widely circulated) is rife in north western Nigeria, particularly in areas where illegal gold mining takes place. For example, while attention has been centered on the spots of epidemic, investigations reveal that Pb poisoning is rife in several unreached communities. Sadly, a lot of these unreached communities are ill-informed about Pb poisoning; they attribute it to mysterious illnesses. These mysterious illnesses are observed to be prevalent in areas where gold is mined. Researchers suggest that small-scale gold miners do engage in unwholesome mining practices that are far below the standards. These miners are by vocation of nomadic sort: wherever gold deposits are discovered, these nomads congregate to exploit. And because they are ill-informed about the associated elements in gold ore and the concomitant hazard thereof, standard practices and cautions are not observed.

Pb poisoning affects children as a result of cumulative exposure. A child’s exposure may differ from an adult’s exposure in many ways. Children drink more fluids, eat more food, breathe more air per kilogram of body weight, and have a larger skin surface in proportion to their body volume. A child’s diet often differs from that of adults. A child’s behavior and lifestyle also influence exposure. Children crawl on the floor, put things in their mouth, sometimes eat inappropriate things (such as dirt or paint chips), and spend more time outdoors. Children are also closer to the ground, and they do not use the judgment of adults to avoid hazards (Mecocci et al., 2004).
Pb, when taken internally in any of its forms, is highly toxic; the effects are usually felt after it has accumulated in the body over a period of time. Symptoms of Pb poisoning include anemia, weakness, constipation, colic palsy, and often a paralysis of the wrists and ankles (Hu et al., 1998). Flaking Pb-based paints and toys made from lead compounds are considered serious hazards for children. Children are especially at risk from Pb, even at levels which were once thought to be safe. Pb can reduce intelligence, delay motor development, impair memory and cause hearing problems and troubles in balance.

Reports by US National Academy of Sciences states that “the weight of evidence gathered during the 1980s clearly supports the conclusion that…blood Pb concentrations in children around 10 mg/dl are associated with disturbances in early physical and mental growth and in later intellectual functioning and academic achievement” (Schaumberg et al., 2004). These effects persist into adulthood and may be irreversible.

 
 

Physics Journal, Electrical Transport Properties, Transmission Electron Microscopy, Magnetotransport Data, Antiferromagnetic Semiconductors, Chemical Precipitation Method, Nanocrystalline Manganites, Perovskite Structure, Citrate-gel Method, Polycrystalline Perovskite Material, Debye Scherrer Formula.