High Content of Heavy Metals Detected in Environment and Human Bodies in Ararat Community

High Content of Heavy Metals Detected in Environment and Human Bodies in Ararat Community


The research was carried out within the framework "Participation of Civil Society in Protection of Chemical Safety in Armenia" project with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic in cooperation with Czech "Arnika" NGO and Armenian "Center for Community Mobilization and Support" and "EcoLur" Informational NGOs.


The Ararat gold mining plant, Ararat cyanide tailing dump, and Ararat cement plant operate in the territory of Ararat community.


In 2023, experts took samples from the land adjacent to these industrial areas, Kakhanov canal, fish, gardens of local residents and biological samples from residents. The samples were tested in the Czech Republic in state-certified laboratories.

On December 13, 2023, during a meeting with local self-government bodies and residents in Ararat community, Project Coordinator Valeriya Grechko from "Arnika" organization presented the results of the research. She noted that the concentration of 10 metals was researched and presented the data on the concentration of elements with the greatest impact.


Arsenic Levels:

Ararat area classified as moderately to strongly polluted by arsenic.

Arsenic concentrations in soil samples generally within the worldwide average range (<0.1 to 67 mg/kg), except for a sample near the gold processing plant exceeding this range 241.2 mg/kg DW.

Arsenic levels in all soil samples exceed Armenian soil standards and US EPA pollution limits for industrial areas.


Chromium Levels:

Chromium concentrations in soil samples slightly higher than worldwide averages (60 mg/kg).

None of the samples meet Armenian soil standards for chromium.


Copper Levels:

Copper concentrations in soil samples (mean 115.7 mg/kg DW) slightly higher than the worldwide range (14 - 109 mg/kg), exceeding Armenian soil standards.

All soil samples within US EPA pollution limits for residential areas.


Mercury Levels:

Mercury concentrations in soil samples slightly lower than the European average.

Two soil samples from private gardens exceed the European average but comply with US EPA pollution limits for residential areas.


Nickel Levels:

Nickel concentrations in soil samples considerably higher than the worldwide range (13–37 mg/kg), indicating elevated levels in the area (57.8 mg/kg DW).

All soil samples exceed Armenian soil standards, with one sample near the gold processing plant exceeding US EPA pollution limits for residential areas.


Biological samples:

Participants: 14 urine and 12 hair samples in Ararat, 4 urine and 1 hair sample in Surenavan (2 participants in Ararat and 3 in Surenavan provided urine only).

All participants identified as women, aged 17 to 47 years (mean of 32.3 years), indicative of their reproductive age.


Arsenic Levels:

Contamination found in all urine samples (geometrical mean: 14.28 µg As/g creatinine, 95th percentile: 34 µg As/g creatinine).

Arsenic levels in urine indicate higher exposure than some European populations and lower than the general adult population in several Asian countries and the US.

Arsenic concentrations in hair do not suggest critical chronic exposure.


Lead Levels:

Nearly 40% of urine samples revealed lead contamination (mean: 4.29 µg/g creatinine, 95th percentile: 16.7 µg/g creatinine).

Detected lead concentrations caution towards practices reducing lead exposure, especially in local children.


Cadmium Levels:

Four participants tested positive for cadmium in urine, and over 60% had cadmium detected in hair.

Detected urine cadmium levels generally lower than the general US and European population.

Identified individuals with cadmium contamination beyond levels of concern.


Other Metals:

Chromium not detected in any samples.

Nickel revealed in nearly 80% of samples at a mean of 0.61 mg/kg and 95th percentile of 2.1 mg/kg.

Urinary nickel concentrations higher than in previous reports and U.S. general populations.

Molybdenum detected in two hair samples within reference values of other studies.

All thirteen women tested above LOQ for mercury and copper in hair.

Hair mercury levels at moderate to low concern.

Copper levels within the normal range suggested by previous studies in Armenia.

Urinary copper levels higher than reference European studies and warrant further investigation.

Having familiarized himself with the data representing the high risk of heavy metals in the community, Artur Isajanyan, Head of Development Programs, Education, Sports, Culture, Youth and Health Department of Ararat Municipality, said: "Although the companies operating in the community have social responsibility obligations, they implement various programs in the community, but this will not solve the health problems raised today."

"The standards of the opinion of the environmental impact and evaluation examination should be stricter. Specific mining companies should be forced to regularly submit test results. There should be independent expert assessment and real data. According to all that, the companies should carry out periodical medical examination of the population at their own expense," Artur Isajanyan noted.

As a result of the discussion, a decision was reached to compile a general package: "We should all unite and propose that the state tightens its policy in this area by means of a law or by-laws. The most important thing for us is the person. If a person loses his health, the rest becomes secondary," Artur Isajanyan outlined.

December 15, 2023 at 15:08