UNEP | Mercury monitoring in Myanmar gets a boost
Across Myanmar, artisanal miners hunt for gold flecks in rivers and pit mines. The work is physically taxing and the income meagre. For many, the sprinkling of particles they find will only offer a few extra dollars of daily income.
It is also dangerous. Mercury is widely used to recover small pieces of gold in soil and sediment – it combines with the gold to form an amalgam that is more easily extracted. But the mercury is poisonous. Miners can inhale vapor from mercury burning or ingest the heavy metal as they eat fish contaminated with mercury runoff. Adverse effects from exposure including kidney and autoimmune dysfunction, and neurological deterioration.
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