Panorámica de la geología médica en Zimbabwe y áreas aledañas

Tendai Njila, Daina Mudimbu, Ndakaiteyi Chinguno, Plaxcedes Chikwema


Las anomalías geoquímicas de fluoruro, arsénico, mercurio, cadmio y otros elementos químicos en los suelos, los sedimentos y el agua, así como la exposición a materiales asbestiformes en las áreas de minería, pueden afectar la salud del hombre y los animales. Las comunidades rurales y periurbanas de Zimbabwe, cercanas a los frentes de minería y áreas mineralizadas, están propensas a los impactos medioambientales porque dependen de la minería artesanal a pequeña escala y de la agricultura de subsistencia. En estas comunidades se han reportado casos de fluorosis en dentadura y huesos, envenenamiento por arsénico y mesotelioma, que es la mayor causa de muerte en el último milenio. Se han propuesto medidas de mitigación en numerosas publicaciones pero aún con relativa poca aplicación. Se pretende resumir en este artículo los resultados acopiados hasta la fecha en lo que concierne a los efectos de los elementos geológicos en el hombre y en los ecosistemas de Zimbabwe,sus impactos y la necesidad de continuar las investigaciones y la implementación de medidas para la mitigación de esos impactos.

Palabras clave

Geología médica; fluorosis; mesotelioma; impactos medioambientales; salud; Zimbabwe

Texto completo:



ASHTON, P. J.; LOVE, D.; MAHACHI, H. & DIRKS, P. 2001. An Overview of the Impact of Mining and Mineral Processing Operations on Water Resources and Water Quality in the Zambezi, Limpopo and Olifants Catchments in Southern Africa. CSIR report to the Minerals, Mining and Sustainable Development Project, Southern Africa.

BERNAUDAT, L. 2003. UNIDO’s Strategy for Reducing the Impact of Artisanal Gold Mining on the Health and the Environment.

BOFFETTA, P.; KOGEVINAS, M.; PEARCE, N. & MATOS, E. 1994. Cancer, in: Occupational Cancer in Developing Countries, International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Scientific Publication 129, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 111–126.

CENTENO, A. 2010. Medical Geology and Research on Environmental Health (Effects of Metals). U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology presentation.

CENTENO, J. A.; MULLICK, F. G.; MARTINEZ, L.; PAGE, N. P.; GIBB, H.; LONGFELLOW, D.; THOMPSON, D. & LADICH, E. R. 2002a. Pathology Related to Chronic Arsenic Exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives 110(5): 883-886.

CENTENO, J. A.; MULLICK, F. G.; MARTINEZ, L.; GIBB, H.; LONGFELLOW, D. & THOMPSON, C. 2002b. Chronic Arsenic Toxicity: An Introduction and Overview. Histopathology 41(2): 324-326.

CHOKUNONGA, E.; BOROK, M. Z.; CHIRENJE, Z. M. & NYAKABAU, A. M. 2010. Pattern of Cancer in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry, 2006 Annual Report.

CHOKUNONGA, E.; BOROK, M. Z.; CHIRENJE, Z. M. & NYAKABAU, A. M. 2009. Pattern of Cancer in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry, 2005 Annual Report.

CHOUINARD, R. & VEIGA, M. M. 2008. Results of the Awareness Campaign and Technology Demonstration for Artisanal Gold Miners. UNIDO Global Mercury Project Summary Report.

CHRISTIAN, W. J.; HOPENHAYN, C.; CENTENO, J. A. & TODOROV, T. I. 2006. Distribution of urinary selenium and arsenic among pregnant women exposed to arsenic in drinking water. Environmental Research 100: 115-122.

DEMBERERE, T.; HOKO, Z.; & SIWADI, J. 2006. An Evaluation of the Sustainability of a Water Supply Project in Mt Darwin District, Zimbabwe. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa 11(2): 98-112.

EDMUNDS, M. & SMEDLEY, P. 2005. Fluoride in natural waters – occurrence, controls and health aspects. In: SELINUS, O.; ALLOWAY, B.; CENTENO, J. A.; FINKELMAN, R. B.; FUGE, R.; LINDH, U. & SMEDLEY, P. (Eds.). Essentials of Medical Geology. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 301-329.

EISLER, R. 2003. Health risks of goldminers: a synoptic review. Environmental Geochemistry and Health 25: 325–345.

FINKLEMAN, R. B. 2006. Health Benefits of Geologic Materials and Geologic Processes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 3(4): 338-342.

FORDYCE, F. 2005. Selenium deficiency and toxicity in the environment. In: SELINUS, O.; ALLOWAY, B.; CENTENO, J. A.; FINKELMAN, R. B.; FUGE, R.; LINDH, U. & SMEDLEY, P. (Eds.). Essentials of Medical Geology. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 373-415.

IARC (INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER) Arsenic and arsenic compounds. 2011. IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risk Hum. 100: 41–94.

KOMATINA, M. M. 2004. Medical geology – Effects of Geological Environments on Human Health. Developments in Earth & Environmental Sciences 2: 488. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

KUNDELL J. 2008. (Ed.). Water Profile of Malawi. Food and Agriculture Organisation. Accessed: December 2013.

KUSHE, J. F. 2009. Assessment of the chemical quality of groundwater for drinking in Dedza District, Malawi. MSc Thesis. Department of Civil Engineering, University of Zimbabwe.

MABVIRA, M. 2003. Geochemical modeling of the dispersion of toxic elements from mining activities in Zimbabwe into soils and water systems. Unpublished MSc Thesis. University of Zimbabwe. Harare, Zimbabwe.

MAMUSE, A. 2003. Fluoride contaminated drinking water in Gokwe District (NW Zimbabwe): spatial distribution, lithostratigraphic controls and implications for human health. MSc Thesis. Department of Applied Geology, Curtin University of Technology.

MAMUSE, A.; SIBANDA, F.; WATKINS, R. T.; NYATSANZA, F. F. & MAKWARIMBA, F. W. 2007. Prevalence and Causes of Dental Fluorosis among School Children in Gokwe North District, Zimbabwe.

MAPONGA, O. & NGORIMA, C. F. 2003. Overcoming environmental problems in the gold panning sector through legislation and education: the Zimbabwean experience. Journal of Cleaner Production 11: 147–157.


PHIRI, S. 2011. Impact of Artisanal Small Scale Gold Mining in Umzingwane District (Zimbabwe), a Potential for Ecological Disaster. MSc Thesis. Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa, University of the Free State.

SARAVANAN, S. 2008. Prevalence of Dental Fluorosis among Primary School Children in Rural Areas of Chidambaram Taluk, Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu, India. Indian Journal of Community Medicine p. 146-150.

SELINUS, O. & FRANK, A. 2000. Medical geology. In: MOLLER, L. (Ed.). Environmental Medicine. Joint Industrial Safety Council, Stockholm, Sweden, 327 p.

SHOKO, D. S. M. & VEIGA, M. M. 2003. Solutions for Mercury Pollution in Artisanal Gold Mining in the Kadoma-Chakari area, Zimbabwe.SWECO AND ASSOCIATES. 2005. Development of the Pungwe River basin joint integrated water resources management strategy. Trainee report, Project 1989086. Government of the Republic of Mozambique, Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida/Asdi).

TELMER, K. 2006. Mercury and Small Scale Gold Mining–Magnitude and Challenges Worldwide. GEF/UNDP/UNIDO Global Mercury Project, Indonesia, 106 p.

TCHOUNWOU, P. B.; PATLOLLA, A. K. & CENTENO, J. A. 2003. Carcinogenic and systemic health effects associated with arsenic exposure – a critical review. Toxicologic Pathology 31: 575-588.

TUNHUMA, M. N. 2007. Environmental impact assessment of small-scale resource exploitation, Zhulube catchment, Limpopo basin, Zimbabwe. (Unpublished MSc Thesis) IHE Institute for Water Education: UNESCO.

UNDP. 2005. Pilot Project for the Reduction of Mercury Contamination Resulting From Artisanal Gold Mining Fields in the Manica District of Mozambique. Final Report. 43 p.

VALOI, G.; KAZILIMANI, E. & BUKALI, F. 2002. Artisanal mining baseline survey, Mozambique.

YUANYUAN XU, ERIK J. TOKAR, YANG SUN, & MICHAEL P. WAALKES. 2012. Arsenic-Transformed Malignant Prostate Epithelia Can Convert Noncontiguous Normal Stem Cells into an Oncogenic Phenotype. Environmental Health Perspectives 120(6): 865–871.



Copyright (c) 2014

Licencia de Creative Commons
Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 4.0 Internacional.