AUA Leads International Experts on Trip to Mining Towns of Aghtala and Alaverdi

YEREVAN–On April 25, the American University of Armenia led a group of international experts on a scientific trip to examine local conditions and environmental concerns in two heavily polluted mining communities in northern Armenia.

The group visited the smelter town of Alaverdi and the tailing ponds in Aghtala–both are areas where a research team from AUA School of Public Health (SPH) and AUA Acopian Center for the Environment (ACE) recently found indications of heavy metal contamination.

“Our colleagues from different countries had the opportunity to observ the general situation in those communities and share their expert opinion on how things could be improved to better protect the health of the people living in those communities,” said SPH Associate Dean Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan, who led the expedition to the mining communities.

The trip followed a two-day scientific symposium on April 22-23 focusing on the impact of mining and construction on community and worker health in Armenia and other transitional economies. The conference was organized by the AUA School of Public Health and the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, in cooperation with the Collegium Ramazzini.

Armenia, along with other former soviet countries, has been behind in developing adequate responses to the socio-economic, environmental, and public health concerns rising from poorly regulated market growth in mineral extraction and construction.

“Our goal is to move the discussion forward and help craft public policy that can address these issues, protect workers, and ensure we properly develop these industries,” said Alen Amirkhanian, director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment.

The AUA School of Public Health works actively to improve the health of the populace and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals and others to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.

The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment (AUA ACE) is a research center of the American University of Armenia. AUA ACE promotes the protection and restoration of the natural environment through research, education, and community outreach. AUA ACE’s focus areas include sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity and conservation, greening the built environment, clean energy and energy efficiency, as well as information technology and the environment.