Rapid assessment of environmental health risks posed by mining operations in low- and middle-income countries

Selected case studies

Jack Caravanos*, Bret Ericson, Johny Ponce-Canchihuamán, David Hanrahan, Meredith Block, Budi Susilorini, Richard Fuller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have evaluated associated health risks and human exposure pathways at mining sites. Others have provided estimates of the scale of the issue based in part on surveys. However, a global census of mining-related hazardous waste sites has been lacking. The Toxic Sites Identification Program (TSIP) implemented by Blacksmith Institute (New York, NY, USA) since 2009 is an ongoing effort to catalogue a wide range of chemically contaminated sites with a potential human health risk (Ericson et al., Environ Monit Assess doi:10.1007/s 10661-012-2665-2, 2012). The TSIP utilizes a rapid assessment instrument, the Initial Site Screening (ISS), to quickly and affordably identify key site criteria including human exposure pathways, estimated populations at risk, and sampling information. The resulting ISS allows for comparison between sites exhibiting different contaminants and pollution sources. This paper explores the results of a subset of ISSs completed at 131 artisanal and small-scale gold mining areas and 275 industrial mining and ore processing sites in 45 countries. The authors show that the ISS captures key data points, allowing for prioritization of sites for further investigation or remedial activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7711-7718
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Developing countries
  • Health risks
  • Low- and medium-income countries
  • Mining
  • Pollution
  • Rapid risk assessment
  • Waste site

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