"Arnika" Chemical Safety Organization to Carry out Investigations in Akhtala and Alaverdi For Second Time


Czech “Arnika” organization will carry out a research in Akhtala and Alaverdi to find out the impact of the environmental pollution on the human health.

It is planned that the Czech experts will visit Akhtala and Alaverdi communities in Lori Region in July this year for sampling, as 'Community Unity and Support Center' NGO President Oleg Dulgaryan said at the seminar-discussions “Issues in Public Health: Industrial Impact on Public Health” held in Alaverdi Community on 7 June. The investigation and the assessment of the findings will be implemented jointly with “Arnika” organization within the frames of “Enhancement of the civil society in Alaverdi and Akhtala to solve industrial pollution problems” project.

Inga Zarafyan, President of “EcoLur” Informational NGO, attending this meeting reminded the attendees about the findings of the investigations carried out by Arnika in 2018.

“Mainly heavy metals and different toxic substances have been detected. Samples of eggs and people’s hair were taken from Alaverdi and Akhtala town residents. Almost all egg samples contained carcinogenic dioxin, while there were heavy metals detected in the hair. The organization representatives told us that the number of taken samples was not sufficient so further investigations will be carried out to understand the extent of the impact of the environmental pollution on people,” Inga Zarafyan noted.

Under the experts, dioxins are, most probably, available in other foods of animal origin and their daily use must be excluded in the diet of the population, particularly that of pregnant women and children. High concentrations of copper (up to 5200 mg/kg), arsenic (140 mg/kg), zinc (1200 mg/kg) and cadmium (3.7 mg/kg) have been detected in the sand samples taken from children's playgrounds in Alaverdi. The contamination of the garden areas located near Alaverdi copper smelter is worrying: copper (up to 1900 mg/kg), arsenic (up to 80 mg/kg) and zinc (up to 1800 mg/kg) as compared with remote areas.

The research findings carried out still in 2015 by the AUA showed that because of Nahatak Tailing Dump operation the concentration of lead in 60-70% of peach samples in Mets Ayrum and Tchotchak communities exceeded the permissible sanitary and healthcare standards by 2-4 times. The AUA research says, 'Overall Geometric Mean (GM) of BLL was 6.0 μg/dl: 6.8 for Akhtala, 6.4 for Alaverdi and 5.1 for Yerevan. The study demonstrated that children in three communities adjacent to metal mining and smelting industries were exposed to lead.' 

During the discussions, a decision was reached together with the active society in Alaverdi to carry out protection of public interests at local and national levels in case of having negative findings of the new investigation.

Oleg Dulgaryan noted, “Local level presupposes proper information provision to the society on all these matters. At the national level, society-government dialogue shall commence so as the state shall introduce mechanism in the industrial sector to carry out the assessment of the environment on the human health. If there are certain people, who have suffered or are suffering from the mining and it impacted their health, these people will seek to receive certain compensation in collaboration with NGOs.”

Arthur Grigoryan, discussion attendee, expert in environmental protection, environmental lawyer, noted that arguments proving the cause-and-effect bond shall be found in order to receive damages.

“Public health is interrelated with environmental pollution. First, it should be proved that such a large amount of lead detected in the blood of the children living in Akhtala and Alaverdi can cause such consequences. It should be proved that the cause of appearance of toxic elements in the human organisms is related to the environmental pollution, which is the consequences of the operations of mining companies,” he noted.

It is known that high concentrations of copper can cause tumors, while high concentrations of lead can cause to mental and vision disorders.

June 21, 2019 at 18:31