A recent investigation has found dangerously high levels of mercury among women from different Indigenous communities in four Latin American countries. This chemical element is a neurotoxic substance that presents a severe threat to both women’s health and that of fetuses. The International Pollutant Elimination Network (IPEN) and the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) analyzed the levels of mercury present among women in Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia living near areas where gold mining is carried out using mercury. The researchers took hair samples from 163 women of childbearing age (18 to 44 years) in those countries and analyzed them at the BRI labs in Maine, United States. They found that 58.8% of them exceeded the threshold established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of 1 part per million (1 ppm), a level at which harmful effects begin to occur in the development of fetuses, and that 68.8% of the women exceeded the level of 0.58 ppm, the lowest concentration in which there are recognizable negative impacts on the fetus. According to the report, “Mercury Exposure of Women in Four Latin American Gold Mining Countries,” women from the Bolivian communities of Eyiyo Quibo (in the country’s northwest) and Portachuelo (center) had the highest levels of mercury, with an average of 7.58 ppm. The researchers also found high levels of mercury among communities in Venezuela and Brazil. In the Venezuelan town of El Callao (east), women showed an average mercury level of 1.1 ppm. In the Brazilian town of Vila…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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