Research shows mercury contamination of women who live in gold mines in Amapá

Victória Sales – from Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – A research called “Women’s exposure to mercury in four Latin American countries”, published this year, conducted by the International Pollutants Elimination Network and the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), with support from the Indigenous Research and Training Institute (Iepé), indicated that 34 women, of child-bearing age, presented a high contamination by mercury.

According to the study, the research was conducted in the Vila Nova community, located in the municipality of Porto Grande (111 kilometers from Macapá), in Amapá. Also according to the work done, the area is close to gold mines, many of which are illegal and which make use of products to nature.

In addition, the analysis found that the women presented an average level of contamination, with 2.98 ppm, above the rate of 1 ppm established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, with a limit for negative effects for the development of fetuses during pregnancy.

Man displays mercury. (Victor Moriyama)

Among the effects that mercury from mining can have on the population are: damage to health, damage to the neurological system, and for pregnant women, the effects are even more harmful, because it can reach the babies, causing impairment to the neurological system, kidney damage and cardiovascular system.

Of the 34 women who participated in the study, 16 stated that they are directly involved in mining or are married to miners. A study produced in 2020 had already pointed out a high mercury index in fish in the state and, in 2017, a survey conducted in the watersheds of the rivers Amapari, Araguari, Cassiporé, Oiapoque and Amapá Grande also pointed out a concentration of the product higher than that recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the coordinator of the Information Management Program, from the Iepé Institute, Decio Yokota, the women who participated in the research were voluntary, and because they are the most affected people, when it comes to mercury. “They are the public most affected by the issue of mercury, especially those in reproductive age, because of the potential to generate a fetus. The children, when they receive a very large contamination, have serious development problems, even fatal”, said the coordinator.

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