A joint committee comprising of government agencies are currently addressing safety and health issues regarding mercury emissions at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) compound.
The situation over the past few months has generated immense conjecture that workers attached to the entity, would have died as a result of complications that are linked to long-term exposure to high levels of mercury emissions.
Commonly referred to as “quicksilver”, mercury is an element used primarily in Guyana’s gold sector. Researchers have indicated that high levels of exposure to this element can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system.
The inter–agency team is comprised of the department of Occupational Safety and Health – Ministry of Social Protection, The National Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH), the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and staff representing the interest of the workers of the GGMC.
A reliable source at the Ministry, has informed Guyana Standard that the team is primarily focusing on methods of addressing concerns about the environment to ensure that action is taken and the requisite systems are put in place to protect the safety and health of workers who were exposed to mercury emissions within that area.
At a recent meeting the team focused on the ongoing air quality sampling, which is presently being undertaken and the next steps forward.
Government recently announced that it will be getting international assistance from an expert group expected to undertake a number of critical assignments, including ascertaining the safety of the environment and making recommendations on best practices. The group will also undertake data analyses and provide the Government with periodic updates to chart the way forward.
The Central Board of Health is also expected to begin working closely with GGMC and other stakeholders including the wider mining sector on programmes to provide life-protecting strategies against mercury exposure.