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Mercury Mining in Mexico: I. Community Engagement to Improve Health Outcomes from Artisanal Mining

Authors:

Andrea Camacho ,

Centro de Investigación Aplicada en Ambiente y Salud, Facultad de Medicina–CIACYT, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México
About Andrea
MS
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Evelyn Van Brussel,

Centro de Investigación Aplicada en Ambiente y Salud, Facultad de Medicina–CIACYT, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México
About Evelyn Van
MD
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Leticia Carrizales,

Centro de Investigación Aplicada en Ambiente y Salud, Facultad de Medicina–CIACYT, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México
About Leticia
MS
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Rogelio Flores-Ramírez,

Centro de Investigación Aplicada en Ambiente y Salud, Facultad de Medicina–CIACYT, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México
About Rogelio
PhD
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Beatriz Verduzco,

Facultad de Química, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, México
About Beatriz
MS
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Selene Ruvalcaba-Aranda Huerta,

Centro de Investigación Aplicada en Ambiente y Salud, Facultad de Medicina–CIACYT, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México
About Selene Ruvalcaba-Aranda
LCAS
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Mauricio Leon,

Centro de Investigación Aplicada en Ambiente y Salud, Facultad de Medicina–CIACYT, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México
About Mauricio
LCAS
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Fernando Díaz-Barriga

Centro de Investigación Aplicada en Ambiente y Salud, Facultad de Medicina–CIACYT, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México
About Fernando
PhD
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Abstract

Background

Mercury is an element that cannot be destroyed and is a global threat to human and environmental health. In Latin America and the Caribbean, artisanal and small-scale gold mining represents the main source of mercury emissions, releases, and consumption. However, another source of concern is the primary production of mercury. In the case of Mexico, in the past 2 years the informal production of mercury mining has increased 10-fold. Considering this scenario, an intervention program was initiated to reduce health risks in the mining communities. The program's final goal is to introduce different alternatives in line to stop the mining of mercury, but introducing at the same time, a community-based development program.

Objective

The aim of this study was to present results from a preliminary study in the community of Plazuela, located in the municipality of Peñamiller in the State of Queretaro, Mexico.

Methods

Total mercury was measured in urine and environmental samples using atomic absorption spectrometry by cold vapor technique. Urine samples were collected from children aged 6-14 years and who had lived in the selected area from birth. Urine samples were also collected from miners who were currently working in the mine. To confirm the presence of mercury in the community, mining waste, water, soil, and sediment samples were collected from those high-risk areas identified by members of the community.

Findings

Children, women, and miners were heavily exposed to mercury (urine samples); and in agreement, we registered high concentrations of mercury in soils and sediments.

Conclusion

Considering these results and taking into account that the risk perception toward mercury toxicity is very low in the community (mining is the only economic activity), an integral intervention program has started.

How to Cite: Camacho, A., Brussel, E.V., Carrizales, L., Flores-Ramírez, R., Verduzco, B., Huerta, S.R.-A., Leon, M. and Díaz-Barriga, F., 2016. Mercury Mining in Mexico: I. Community Engagement to Improve Health Outcomes from Artisanal Mining. Annals of Global Health, 82(1), pp.149–155. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aogh.2016.01.014
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Published on 17 Jun 2016.
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