Almost a third of fish in the Amazon contain high levels of mercury in the body – they are dangerous to humans. This became known from a study by the Brazilian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and three Brazilian research institutes. They found “shockingly high” levels of mercury in 400 fish species that inhabit five parts of the river.
The researchers added that the four species with the highest mercury concentrations are the species most commonly eaten by locals. At the same time, consumption of more than 200 grams of this fish can cause irreparable harm to health.
High levels of mercury in the region are caused by illegal gold mining, activists said. This study found that diggers not only harm the forests in the area but also poison the rivers around them.
“The level of mercury was extremely high in 77.6% of carnivorous fish, 20% of omnivores and 2.4% of herbivores. Most of these fish are consumed by local people or sold to other countries”.
excerpt from WWF report
“We already knew it was destroying the forest. Now we know how gold mining destroys the health of those who live in this region”, WWF activists said.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has often been criticized for using the protected lands of the Amazon for mining and agricultural activities. Activists say this is accelerating the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.
Methylmercury, the organic form of toxic metallic mercury, is hazardous to humans and wildlife. Mercury pollution comes from power plants, mines, and other industrial facilities. It is carried in the atmosphere and then stored in the natural environment, including in the organisms of animals that humans consume.