Mercury Pollution in the Amazon

Project Team

Bass Connections team members in Peru.

Artisanal, or small-scale, gold mining (ASGM) is the leading cause of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon and one of largest sources of global mercury pollution to the atmosphere.

Within the heavily mined Madre de Dios river basin, people report significant reductions in the size and variety of fish caught over the last decade. Throughout the river basin, satellite imagery documents that mining leads to rainforest destruction, an expansion of contaminated settling ponds and massive sediment pollution of the river. The environmental consequences of forest destruction, large-scale hydrologic alteration and loading of sediments and trace metals to this major tributary of the Amazon have implications for biodiversity and human livelihoods in the region.

This Bass Connections project set out to understand the impacts of ASGM on aquatic ecology and to communicate these impacts with policymakers and local communities.

History Repeats Itself: Mercury Pollution from Historic and Modern Gold Rushes

Poster by Arianna Agostini, Rand Alotaibi, Arabella Chen, Annie Lee, Fernanda Machicao, Melissa Marchese, Jacqueline Gerson, Jasmine Parham, Austin Wadle and Emily Bernhardt