Location

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Start Date

1-5-2014 9:00 AM

End Date

1-5-2014 10:00 AM

Project Type

Poster

Description

Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining is the worlds second largest source of atmospheric mercury pollution behind coal combustion (United Nations Environment Program 2012). It is estimated that 10 to 15 million people in 70 countries work in the ASGM trade and are exposed to toxic effects of mercury from an inexpensive yet effective gold processing technique. Adult mercury exposure produces localized damage to the cerebellum, visual cortex, and motor strip, leading to visuospatial problems and effects on executive functioning, mood, and memory. Early life exposure, however, is most harmful because increased exposure can damage the whole brain. In its organic form, methylmercury is considered the most toxic mercury species primarily among children, who may experience neurodevelopment deficits, IQ losses, and delayed speech from exposure. While pregnant women and children experience the greatest risk of neurotoxic effects from mercury exposure, these vulnerable populations also participate in the ASGM trade. Global estimates of these vulnerable populations who experience neurotoxic effects associated with amalgam-induced mercury vapor exposure in the gold mining process remains limited. On October 10th, 2013, The Minamata Convention on Mercury to reduce global mercury emissions in the interest of human and environmental health was ratified, banning sources of mercury like batteries and mercury mining. The international treaty does not ban mercury used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining but encourages nations to reduce their own use, without providing targets or dates. The current treaty considers the health of populations globally exposed to mercury but fails to enforce measures protecting vulnerable populations who face significantly higher exposures within the ASGM trade.

Faculty Sponsor

Gail Carlson

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. Environmental Studies Program

CLAS Field of Study

Interdisciplinary Studies

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

474

Share

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May 1st, 9:00 AM May 1st, 10:00 AM

The Neurotoxic Effects of Mercury Vapor Exposure from Artisanal Gold Mining

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining is the worlds second largest source of atmospheric mercury pollution behind coal combustion (United Nations Environment Program 2012). It is estimated that 10 to 15 million people in 70 countries work in the ASGM trade and are exposed to toxic effects of mercury from an inexpensive yet effective gold processing technique. Adult mercury exposure produces localized damage to the cerebellum, visual cortex, and motor strip, leading to visuospatial problems and effects on executive functioning, mood, and memory. Early life exposure, however, is most harmful because increased exposure can damage the whole brain. In its organic form, methylmercury is considered the most toxic mercury species primarily among children, who may experience neurodevelopment deficits, IQ losses, and delayed speech from exposure. While pregnant women and children experience the greatest risk of neurotoxic effects from mercury exposure, these vulnerable populations also participate in the ASGM trade. Global estimates of these vulnerable populations who experience neurotoxic effects associated with amalgam-induced mercury vapor exposure in the gold mining process remains limited. On October 10th, 2013, The Minamata Convention on Mercury to reduce global mercury emissions in the interest of human and environmental health was ratified, banning sources of mercury like batteries and mercury mining. The international treaty does not ban mercury used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining but encourages nations to reduce their own use, without providing targets or dates. The current treaty considers the health of populations globally exposed to mercury but fails to enforce measures protecting vulnerable populations who face significantly higher exposures within the ASGM trade.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2014/program/299