Mercury used in Peru’s Amazon gold rush causing health crisis

CCTV News

collyns 2

Gold is a valuable metal but its illegal extraction comes at a heavy cost in Peru.

The country has declared a two-month state of emergency in 11 Amazon districts to combat widespread mercury poisoning among the population. CCTV America’s Dan Collyns has the story from Peru.

Mercury used in Peru's Amazon gold rush causing health crisis

Mercury used in Peru's Amazon gold rush causing health crisis

Gold is a valuable metal but its illegal extraction comes at a heavy cost in Peru. The country has declared a two-month state of emergency in 11 Amazon districts to combat widespread mercury poisoning among the population. CCTV America’s Dan Collyns has the story from Peru.

A gold rush in Peru’s south-eastern Amazon has laid waste to the rainforest and wreaked havoc on human health.

The country’s environment ministry says 41 percent of the population have dangerous levels of neurotoxin substances in their bodies.

The pollution has affected people who eat fish from contaminated rivers and miners who handle mercury, which is used to separate gold. Small children and women are particularly vulnerable.

The environment ministry says the miners dump around 40 tons of mercury in rivers every year and have destroyed more than 100,000 hectares of rainforest.

Even small amounts of mercury can cause irreversible damage to multiple organs, including the brain.

The outgoing government had launched military crackdowns on illegal mining but to little effect.