High levels of arsenic have been found in the soil and ground water near a gold mine in the south Indian state of Karnataka. Arsenic is defined as “a grayish-white element having a metallic luster, vaporizing when heated and forming poisonous compounds.” Arsenic cannot be boiled out of the contaminated water supply since it will increase the arsenic concentration. Scientists have been asked to investigate if arsenic was to blame for the skin illnesses and cancer among villagers. Doctors assumed that heavy doses of it reached the water supply in the village. 171 volunteers within a village tested for arsenic exceeded the upper limit for unexposed individuals while some soil samples had arsenic levels 200 times the safe limit. The normal limit for groundwater prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) is “10 parts per billion,” so scientists have sampled more than eight hundred villages’ ground water and have concluded that it is 30 times higher than the normal limit.
Student Researcher: Leavern Gongon , Indian River State College Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D. Indian River State College
Archita Bhatta, Arsenic Contamination from Gold Mining found in India Villages, Envirolink.org, Nov. 12, 2012
Archita Bhatta, Arsenic poisoning stalks India`s Gold Mines, Environmental Expert.com, Nov. 13, 2012
Arsenic is a metal chemical toxin that has caused some heath issues in villages of India near gold mines. Due to precipitation, the remains of arsenic from mining contaminates ground water. In these villages ground water is also well water, which is the source of consumption. Arsenic is typically ingested from the contaminated ground water. This has been reported to have led to skin irritations or diseases as well as kidney and liver cancer.
So, is our desire to mine gold morally acceptable even if it endangers the health of others?
Greed is the desire of wanting something badly even if it may not be needed. Some people are greedy for food, clothes or in this case gold to produce wealth for oneself. Mining companies seek gold for profit no matter the cost to the lives of others. The effects of greed have caused villagers painful diseases or sudden deaths.
It is not generally morally acceptable to profit at the expense of others. The least mining industries should do for putting villagers’ lives at risk is to provide clean drinking water supplies as compensation. People’s lives are at stake but still the quest to maximize the bottom line continues.
Mining industries worldwide may believe that their actions are much more important and for a greater good than the health of the villagers. Their “greater good” is to seek a profit benefitting themselves as a company. Mining for gold in the long run will give the company wealth because people in nations such as the United States and in Europe provide a demand for gold. Companies will try their hardest to reach their expectations. Companies look at the bigger picture of what they have invested and the profit that will come from mining. Some individuals believe that this will improve society even though the lives of others hand in the balance.
In conclusion, when it comes to the gold mining industries equality will never be in the picture as long as corporate greed takes priority over the lives of the poor. The voices of those who know nothing of this arsenic contamination in their well water are the villagers. In other words equality is knowledge and these villagers have little to no knowledge of this matter. Gold mining industries have been able to repress the reality and severity of this matter, with its corporate money.