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|A Heavy Price|
|Lead Poisoning and Gold Mining in Nigeria’s Zamfara State|
Since 2010, widespread, acute lead poisoning in Nigeria’s Zamfara state has killed at least 400 children. It is considered the worst outbreak of lead poisoning in modern history, with more than 3,500 children requiring urgent, life-saving treatment. Fewer than half are receiving it. Among affected adults, there are high rates of infertility and miscarriage.
Zamfara is mineral-rich, with significant deposits of gold. The acute lead poisoning there is a result of artisanal gold mining: small scale mining with rudimentary tools. Miners crush and grind ore to extract gold, and in the process release dust that is highly contaminated with lead.
Yet even in Bagega, the largest and most contaminated village, little or no funding for environmental remediation or medical treatment has been provided by the government or international donors.