Uranium exposure-associated health complications and their environmental-exposure pathways: A baseline survey among residents near uranium mining sites in Siavonga, Zambia

  • Titus Haakonde Environmental Health Section, School of Applied and Health Sciences, Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce, Lusaka, Zambia https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6797-3363
  • Kennedy Choongo Department of Para-clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Gershom Chongwe Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Public Health, The University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Gilbert Nchima Toxicology and Biochemistry Unit, Central Veterinary Research Institute, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Balmoral, Chilanga, Zambia.
  • Md. Saiful Islam Centre for River and Coastal Engineering (CRCE), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), 81310, Johor Bahru Malaysia
  • Kutemba Kaina Kapanji-Kakoma
  • John Yabe School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia.
Keywords: Uranium exposure, children, maternal-related, health complications


Background: Uranium (U), a naturally occurring actinide may exhibit radio-toxic or chemo-toxic health effects in exposed populations. Increased cases of environmental uranium pollution have recently gained attention owing to its potential threats to human health and adverse effects on animals and aquatic life. Among the toxicological effects known to arise from environmental exposure to U in humans include neurotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, pulmonary toxicity, reproductive toxicity and bone toxicity. Anecdotal evidence indicating that residents of communities in the vicinity of U-mining sites in Siavonga, Zambia, were experiencing some health complications associated with U exposure have been recorded. Therefore, the current study was conducted with the aim of assessing the associations between specific U exposure-associated health complications, and the potential environmental exposure pathways among residents in the vicinity of the U mining sites in Siavonga, Zambia. Methods: A comparative cross-sectional study design was used. A total of 698 study participants who met the study’s inclusion criteria were randomly included in the study. Pre-tested interviewer-administered semi-structured questionnaires were used for data collection, The collected data was thereafter statistically analysed using a binary logistic regression through SPSS (v 20). Results: The current study results are suggesting that one’s place of residence and the location of drinking water sources had an effect (p< 0.05) on one’s chances of experiencing U exposure-associated health complications. The odds of experiencing U exposure- associated health complications among the U-mining area community residents were at minimum >1.2 among the general populations, >1.6 among pregnant women and >2.014 among children compared to the residents of the non-mining area communities. Conclusions: The findings of the study revealed that the residents of the U-mining area were exposed to high U levels. Therefore, awareness programs targeting local communities should be initiated to sensitise them on the means and ways of limiting and avoiding exposure to U. Keywords: Uranium exposure; Children; Maternal-related; Health complications; Zambia