Golden hazards

All that glitters is not gold and that’s the reason the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has established assaying and Hallmarking centres across the length and breadth of the nation to test the purity of precious metals like gold, silver, etc. The Hallmarking centres assign Hallmark certificates to the expensive metals validating the purity of the given samples. The government has issued a set of strict standards of pollution control and waste treatment for the assaying and Hallmarking centers.

Unfortunately, the consequences of the love for gold among Indians are not that “golden”. Golden jewelry may look stunning on women but the environment is suffering and suffocating. The Hallmarking and assaying centers are not abiding by the laws set by the CPCB and causing grave hazards for the ecosystem. The problem is growing bigger with every passing minute.

The experts at MitraSK have observed that most of the assaying centers have become dangerous for their own workforce and the environment alike. According to them, the procedure for assaying and Hallmarking itself is hazardous for the environment as the procedure involves a number of chemical and thermal processes. These chemical and thermal processes emit a number of toxic fumes and other injurious compounds. These fumes can cause respiratory troubles and related complications in humans. Moreover, these centers are not even treating the waste before releasing it in the environment. This is doubling the peril for the aquatic life and soil microbes.

How the assaying and Hallmarking of precious metals is carried out –

The procedure for testing the purity of the noble metals include the following steps-

  1. Reception-
  2. X-ray-
  3. Melting the sample
  4. Sample preparation
  5. Assaying
  6. Cupellation
  7. Parting

After a detailed analysis, our experts have concluded that cupellation is the most dangerous step in the entire procedure of assaying and Hallmarking.

Why is cupellation fatal?

During the cupellation the lead is oxidised into lead oxide fumes and impurities are absorbed in the cupells. The fumes generated by the oxidation of lead pollutes the air. The water used in the process absorbs the lead and pollutes the water bodies when released untreated in the environment. Moreover, these centers frequently use acids and other injurious chemicals that pose a massive risk to the lives of the workforce as well as the environment.

In some cases, the workers are not provided with the elementary protection gear which worsens the situation further.

How to mitigate the risk-

Our experts believe that the process of assaying and Hallmarking needs an eco-friendly makeover and the waste materials should be scientifically treated before releasing in the environment so that it cannot create chemical, air, and thermal pollution or other health hazards.

However, the centers can take these steps in immediately to curb the hazards to a large extent-

  1. Provide protective gear to the workforce
  2. Treat the waste before dumping
  3. Adhere to the guidelines/laws/conditions set by the local administration.
  4. Comply with the Government regulations
  5. Maintain the hygiene at the centers