Health risk assessment of heavy metals and metalloid in drinking water from communities near gold mines in Tarkwa, Ghana

  • Nesta Bortey-Sam
  • Shouta M. M. Nakayama
  • Yoshinori Ikenaka
  • Osei Akoto
  • Elvis Baidoo
  • Hazuki Mizukawa
  • Mayumi Ishizuka


Concentrations of heavy metals and metalloid in borehole drinking water from 18 communities in Tarkwa, Ghana, were measured to assess the health risk associated with its consumption. Mean concentrations of heavy metals (μg/L) exceeded recommended values in some communities. If we take into consideration the additive effect of heavy metals and metalloid, then oral hazard index (HI) results raise concerns about the noncarcinogenic adverse health effects of drinking groundwater in Huniso. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) guidelines, HI values indicating noncarcinogenic health risk for adults and children in Huniso were 0.781 (low risk) and 1.08 (medium risk), respectively. The cancer risk due to cadmium (Cd) exposure in adults and children in the sampled communities was very low. However, the average risk values of arsenic (As) for adults and children through drinking borehole water in the communities indicated medium cancer risk, but high cancer risk in some communities such as Samahu and Mile 7. Based on the USEPA assessment, the average cancer risk values of As for adults (3.65E−05) and children (5.08E−05) indicated three (adults) and five (children) cases of neoplasm in a hundred thousand inhabitants. The results of this study showed that residents in Tarkwa who use and drink water from boreholes could be at serious risk from exposure to these heavy metals and metalloid.


Heavy metal Metalloid Tarkwa Health risk Hazard index 



This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan awarded to M. Ishizuka and Y. Ikenaka and the foundation of JSPS Core to Core Program (AA Science Platforms). We would like to acknowledge the financial support by the Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Environment Fund, the Akiyama Life Science Foundation, and the Nihon Seimei Foundation. We also express our sincere gratitude and thanks to Mr. Joseph Prah and Mr. Joseph Addae who in various ways assisted to carry out this research. We would like to thank Mr. Takahiro Ichise for helping with the maintenance of the instrument.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nesta Bortey-Sam
    • 1
  • Shouta M. M. Nakayama
    • 1
  • Yoshinori Ikenaka
    • 1
  • Osei Akoto
    • 2
  • Elvis Baidoo
    • 2
  • Hazuki Mizukawa
    • 3
  • Mayumi Ishizuka
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Toxicology, Department of Environmental Veterinary Sciences, Graduate School of Veterinary MedicineHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryKwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Veterinary Science, Graduate School of Veterinary MedicineHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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