Mercury from illegal gold mining is poisoning Peruvian children

Mercury from illegal gold mining is poisoning Peruvian children

autism-pollution-pregnancy-2013-06-25The rivers in Peru’s southeastern Amazon area are being poisoned by toxic levels of mercury coming from illegal gold miners. And the worst is that, according to a new study made by the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Project, this leakage is posing serious health risks to the local children.

The report says that native communities are registering levels of mercury almost five times higher than what is considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). On the other hand, people in urban areas had double the safe limit.

Children and women of childbearing age are the most affected by the toxic element, produced within the artisanal gold mining industry, and it’s known that the consumption of high levels of mercury during pregnancy causes severe and permanent brain damage to the unborn child, among other problems.

Miners_of_Madre_de_Dios_region_9903_11573_transcript_pulloutA previous investigation made by the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology had already warned that most of the consumed fish species sold in the Amazonian markets of Madre de Dios had severe traces of mercury.

It looks like the most recent efforts made by the Peruvian government to diminish the effects of illegal mining, like mercury leakages, are not working so well. The battle between illicit miners, environmental activists and local authorities keeps going strong.

According to Peru’s ministry of environment, the use of mercury and other toxic elements that are direct consequences of the illegal mining activity has already destroyed 18,000 hectares of the Amazon rainforest.