By Pratch Rujivanarom
Rangsit varsity reveals samples show above-average levels of heavy metals
A NEW round of blood tests will be conducted on 500 people living near the Chatri Gold Mine in Phichit this weekend to see if they have traces of heavy metals in their blood.
Rangsit University revealed that blood samples taken in October of the villagers found higher levels of heavy metals than average. The results were from a preliminary testing.
The fresh round of tests has been organised by Rangsit University in order to identify the traces of heavy metal in blood samples.
People living near Akara Resources’ gold mine believe the surrounding environment has been contaminated with heavy metals and that this caused the death of locals and former mine workers while many others suffered from illness.
The latest blood tests in Phetchabun’s Wang Pong district, resulted in all 500 test tubes being used. “We have prepared to collect 500 more blood samples in Phitsanulok’s Noen Maprang district from people who still have not had their blood tested yet, in an area close to the gold mine,” said Smith Tungkasmit, an environmentalist from Rangsit University who is part of the testing team.
He said the results from the latest tests needed to be summarised before being announced to the public but high heavy metal levels were found in many results.
Maha Sarakham University lecturer Chainarong Sretthachau, who has worked closely with the villagers, said the health problem was very bad and many people suffered from illnesses and skin irritation.
“The people around the gold mine have difficulty going to Bangkok to receive medical treatment because they have no money. Many people, both locals and ex-gold-mine workers, have already died from illnesses,” Chainarong said.
He said the government had not responded to local’s pleas for them to be relocated.
Chainarong has launched a charity campaign to raise money for villagers and so far has raised around Bt100,000.
“The money will be used to sponsor the transport costs for all locals when they have to travel to run the campaign against the gold mine, pay travel costs for people who have to see a doctor in Bangkok and stage funerals for those who died from the heavy metal-related illnesses,” he said.