Mercury is a highly dangerous neurotoxin, and due to illegal gold mining in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, residents of the area are being exposed to this harmful substance. Mercury is used by gold miners to extract gold from metal and ore, a process which produces dangerous air-borne vapors and also releases mercury into major rivers. People who are regularly exposed to mercury may experience a reduction in lifespan and a decreased quality of life; worse case scenario, mercury may cause paralysis, insanity, coma, or death. Recent research has found that high levels of mercury in the environment of Madre de Dios are strongly affecting the human populations.
To read more about recent research of the effects of mercury, visit: http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0528-avery-mercury-gold-mining.html
To read the research brief on mercury concentrations in fish and humans, visit: http://dge.stanford.edu/research/CAMEP/CAMEP%20Research%20Brief%20-%20Puerto%20Maldonado%20English%20-%20FINAL.pdf