Summary of findings
- High levels of mercury in the environment of Madre de Dios are strongly affecting the human population of Puerto Maldonado, resulting in a grave and mounting threat to public health.
- Mercury levels of the people of Puerto Maldonado are extremely elevated and mercury contamination is more extensive than previously identified.
- Mercury contamination of wild caught fish sold in the markets of Puerto Maldonado is much more extensive than previously indentified and is increasing, indicating that the ecosystems of Madre de Dios are becoming more severely affected by artisanal gold mining.
- Regular consumption of wild caught fish species contaminated with high concentrations of mercury and occupational exposure to mercury through gold mining is contributing to the high levels of mercury found in adults in Puerto Maldonado.
- Other sources of mercury, such as the high levels of mercury vapor released by “gold shops”, small businesses that buy and refine gold in populated urban areas, are also contributing to the high mercury levels found in people.