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Still Waters

Mine ponds amplify mercury risks in Amazon

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Still Waters

The proliferation of pits and ponds created in recent years by miners digging for small deposits of alluvial gold in Peru's Amazon has dramatically altered the landscape and increased the risk of mercury exposure for indigenous communities and wildlife, a new study shows.

"In heavily mined watersheds, there's been a 670% increase in the extent of ponds across the landscape since 1985. These ponds are almost entirely artificial lakes created as thousands of former mining pits fill in with rainwater and groundwater over time," said Simon Topp, a doctoral student in geological sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who co-led the study.

"Methylmercury poses especially high risks for humans and large predators because it bioaccumulates in body tissue as it moves up the food chain. 

https://phys.org/news/2020-11-ponds-amplify-mercury-peru-amazon.html

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