Impacts of Small-Scale Gold Mining in South America

Project Team

Millions of artisanal and small-scale gold miners use mercury (Hg) to extract gold from ore, generating Hg emissions and waste that pollute air and water. Gold amalgamation produces about 40% of anthropogenic mercury emissions and is one of the largest threats to forests and biodiversity in the Amazon. Hg exposure can also cause serious health issues for miners and the members of affected communities.

This research team aimed to evaluate and mitigate the damaging effects of mercury-based artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Guyana. They tested water quality and implemented a new environmental sampling technology; evaluated the effect of Hg and lead (Pb) exposure on child cognitive development and adult cardiovascular disease risk; investigated the use of biomarkers to identify high Hg exposure; and analyzed market and policy solutions to mining pollution.

Evaluating and Mitigating the Damaging Effects of Mercury-based Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in South America

Poster by Axel Berky, Grant Breit, Adam Hahn, Helen Hsu-Kim, Fernanda Machicao, Reshma Nargund, Chelsea Nielsen, William Pan, Alexander Pfaff, Shannon Plunkett, Diana Quintero Giraldo, Danny Tobin and Zehua Wang 

Project poster.