Peru declares mercury poison emergency

2016-05-23 21:52

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lima - Peru declared an environmental emergency on Monday in 11 Amazon jungle districts where mercury pollution blamed on unregulated gold mining is poisoning people and fish.

Tests in the southeastern Madre de Dios region found "mercury pollution above the maximum permitted level, affecting river water, water species and local populations," said a report announcing the decision in the official government gazette.

Environmental authorities detected high levels of mercury in local people's bodies which "can cause serious, chronic and complex health problems, particularly in children and pregnant women," it said.

Mercury poisoning can affect vital functions such as the nerves, digestive system, lungs and kidneys, according to the World Health Organization.

Monday's report blamed the pollution on "unsuitable practices by illegal and unregulated mining during the extraction of gold."

Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said the state of emergency involved sending medical aid and non-contaminated food supplies to the region.

He said authorities have advised local people not to eat a species of catfish common in the region that has also been contaminated by the mercury.

"We are going to suffer the consequences of mining activity in Madre de Dios for the next 80 years," the minister told a news conference.

"We have to attack the root of this problem" by shutting down illegal mining operations, he said.

Read more on:    peru  |  mining  |  health

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.