(ORDO NEWS) — A new study indicates that critical levels of mercury are present inside the fish in the Amazon River. High levels of mercury in Brazil’s Amapa region are caused by illegal gold mining, according to a researcher at the WWF country office.
Almost a third of the fish in the Amazon region of the Brazilian state of Amapa in the Amazon have such high levels of mercury due to illegal mining, according to a new study. This fish is already considered dangerous for human consumption.
Scientists from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) office in Brazil and three Brazilian research institutes have found astonishing levels of mercury in more than 400 fish collected from five regions of Amapa, bordering French Guyana.
The study included fish from included river systems near protected areas.
“The level exceeded the safety limits in 77.6% of carnivorous fish, 20% of omnivores and 2.4% of herbivores,” says the study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
“The four species with the highest concentrations of mercury are among the most widely consumed by humans in the region.”
Eating more than 200 grams (seven ounces) can be harmful to human health.
High levels of mercury in the region are caused by illegal gold mining, said conservationist Marcelo Oliveira of WWF-Brazil.
“This study is revealing amazing data on the level of destruction caused by illegal gold mining in the Amazon. We already knew before that it was destroying the forest. Now we know how it destroys the health of those who live there.”
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for still trying to open up conservation areas in the Amazon for mining and agriculture. Activists say this will only hasten the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.
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