Determining the Impact of Bauxite Mining on Public Health

Linden, Guyana

Featured image for the project, Determining the Impact of Bauxite Mining on Public Health

Description

Linden is the second largest town in Guyana after Georgetown, and capital of the Upper Demerara-Berbice region. It was declared a town in 1970, and includes the communities of MacKenzie and Wismar. It lies on the Demerara River and has a population of roughly 29,298.[1] It is primarily a bauxite mining town, containing many mines 60–90 metres deep, with many other pits now in disuse.

For the past century, there has been a large amount of bauxite produced in Linden. Although Bosai Bauxite Plant has done some measurements of the dust, this has not included atmospheric measurements. Some PM10 and 2.5 sampling provided evidence for the need for dust collector installation, but nothing further than that. Currently, there is no dust collection data.

Medical practitioners and communities have attributed growing cases of respiratory illnesses and other irritants to the bauxite pollution. There have been some, but limited studies on the effects of bauxite.

After enduring decades of dust pollution, the mining town of Linden, would like to understand better how the dust affects residents. They have been suffering from a number of respiratory illnesses, like asthma, and eye irritation due to the dust. Thus, the town seeks studies into the effects of the Bosai Bauxite Plant located in the heart of Linden.

[1] Wikipedia contributors. (2018, December 9). Linden, Guyana. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:20, April 17, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Linden,_Guyana&oldid=872884795

Project Team

Community Leads

Waneka Odetta Arrindell has a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Guyana. She also has a certificate in Theology. Prior to her mayoral role, Arrindell worked at Linden Television Station, Linden Care Foundation (an NGO) where she worked as a Project Coordinator with children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2016, Mrs. Arrindell, was elected the Deputy Mayor of Linden, a position she held for two years. In 2018, she was elected Mayor of Linden, a prestigious position which now allows her to use most of her attributes, skills and training to serve her community.

 

Wainewright Odida Bethune has a diploma in Land Surveying & Geology. He worked as a Field Assistant and Soil Technician from 1990-1993 with Guymine, Quality Control Supervisor/Geo Technician 1994 – 2011 with Linmine and OBMI and was promoted to Technical Services & Environmental Coordinator in 2012 with BOSAI in which he currently holds this position. In 2016 he was elected councillor of the Linden Municipality and held position of Deputy Mayor from 2017-2019.

 

Scientific Lead

Ahmad M. Qureshi started his career as a physician with an MBBS degree from Rawalpindi Medical College, Punjab University, Pakistan (Now Rawalpindi Medical University) & worked at various hospitals in Pakistan, Australia and Malaysia. He then obtained Master in Community Health Science with majors in Occupational Health from National University of Malaysia & completed Graduate Certificate in Higher Education from Monash University, Australia. Qureshi’s main research interests include: asbestos-related diseases, health effects of bauxite, musculoskeletal diseases & road traffic accidents. He is one of the contributors of the WHO Toolkit for Elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases; Chapter – 4.

Scientist Wanted

Mayor Arrindell, Deputy Mayor Wainwright Bethune and the aforementioned collaborators seek a local and a remote scientific collaborator to do a study to understand the effects of bauxite on human health. Should it be found to be toxic to human health, it would be desirable for those scientific partners to develop an environmental monitoring system that might monitor bauxite over time.

Thriving Earth Exchange asks all scientific partners to work with the community to help define a project with concrete local impact that they can contribute to as pro-bono volunteers and collaborators.  This work can also position the scientists and communities to seek additional funding, together, for the next stage.

Timeline and Outcome

This project is expected to commence as soon as possible for a duration of approximately six months.

It is expected the scientific partner(s) will collaborate with Linden to ensure improved local understanding and information sharing on this issue. Information collected would help the municipality monitor this pollution moving forward. By better understanding this issue and its effects on residents, they may be able to develop a solution in order to change residents’ behaviors and lifestyles. Moreover, it is expected that this product would have an impact on developing policy to influence the industry itself and direct future Guyanese Environmental Protection Agency studies.

 

Desired Skills and Expertise

  • Experience in mining geology, engineering and/or chemistry – preferably with a focus in bauxite mining.
  • Public health expertise.
  • Experience in understanding and demonstrating health effects of bauxite
  • Ability to work well with various interested parties
  • Strong listening and collaboration skills
  • Experience and/or desire to participate in community education, outreach and engagement
  • Willingness to connect science to local concerns
  • Competent and open to new ideas
  • Patient, relaxed, easy going personality with a good sense of humor
  • The local scientific partner should be able to visit the community in-person

Collaborating Organization(s)