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General health status of residents of the Selebi Phikwe Ni-Cu mine area, Botswana

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Residents of the Selebi Phikwe area, Botswana where nickel-copper (Ni-Cu) is being exploited often exhibit symptoms of varied degrees of ailments, sicknesses and diseases. A need to investigate their general health status was therefore eminent. Primary data was obtained by means of a questionnaire and structured interviews conducted with individuals, health service providers, business enterprises and educational Institutions. The generated data revealed common ailments, sicknesses and diseases in the area with the four most frequent health complaints being frequent coughing headaches, influenza/common colds and rampant chest pains. Research findings indicated that residents had respiratory tract-related problems, suspected to be linked to the effects of air pollution caused by the emission of sulphur dioxide (SO 2 ) from mining and smelting activities. Residents were frequently in contact with SO 2 and related gases and fumes, mineral and silica dust generated from the mining processes. No clearly demarcating differences were noticed in the health status of residents living in the control site from those in the main study area. However, sites most affected were those close to where Ni-Cu is exploited. Environmental factors resulting from mining and smelting activities, among others, could be contributory to the negative health effects occurring at Selebi Phikwe.
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Keywords: Health status; nickel-copper; sicknesses and diseases; sulphur dioxide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: X-Ray Diffraction Unit, Faculty of Science, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana

Publication date: 01 October 2005

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