Gold mining with mercury poses health threats for miles downstream

Assumption that distance lowers risk doesn’t hold up

Source:

Duke University

Summary:

Small-scale gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon poses a health hazard not only to the miners and communities near where mercury is used to extract gold from ore, but also to downstream communities hundreds of kilometers away where people eat mercury-contaminated river fish as part of their diet. Downstream children under 12 with the highest levels of mercury in their bodies were found to have lost IQ points and become anemic.

FULL STORY

Small-scale gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon poses a health hazard not only to the miners and communities near where mercury is used to extract gold from ore, but also to downstream communities hundreds of kilometers away where people eat mercury-contaminated river fish as part of their diet.

In these downstream communities where fish is an important part of the diet, children under 12 with the highest levels of mercury in their blood and hair suffer a 4.68-point loss in I.Q., researchers report. They are also more anemic, lacking adequate hemoglobin to carry oxygen in their blood.

Both findings come from a series of studies conducted by Duke University scientists in and around the Amarakaeri

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