Peruvian mercury poisoning by illegal mining

This video from Canada is called Just How Toxic is Mercury? – A Study by University of Calgary.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Jungle region awash with unsafe levels of mercury

Thursday 21 March 2013

Unsafe amounts of mercury have been found in four in five adults and 60 per cent of fish sold at markets in a Peruvian jungle area ravaged by illegal gold mining.

The Carnegie Institution for Science called it a “grave and mounting threat to public health” today.

Mercury is a byproduct of small-scale gold mining practiced by about 40,000 illegal miners in the Madre de Dios region on the border with Bolivia and Brazil.

The institution said women of childbearing age were worst hit – and also the most vulnerable to mercury.

The metal is a neurotoxin and can cause severe, permanent brain damage to an unborn child.

Unlike legal mining in the Andean highlands, the mining in Madre de Dios consists chiefly of scouring riverbeds and alluvial deposits for gold flecks that stick to mercury.

India: COLIN TODHUNTER tells the story of a once beautiful town contaminated by leaking mercury – thanks to greedy factory bosses: here.

A Dartmouth study finds that artisanal-scale gold mining is altering water clarity and dynamics in the Madre de Dios River watershed in Peru, a tropical biodiversity hotspot. Higher levels of suspended sediment were found in rivers near the mining sites, with increasing impacts as mining has become more widespread in the past two decades. The elevated sediment levels contain mercury and other contaminants, which can pose health risks to humans and have a detrimental impact on fish populations and other aquatic life. The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: here.

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