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A Toxics-Free Future


Heavy Metals

Mercury use in Mali: Case study of "orpailleurs" (miners)

In Mali, the most common human exposure to mercury is through artisanal gold mining. Fondation pour le Développement au Sahel (FDS) / Sahel Development Foundation conducted a case study examining traditional gold mining in Kangaba Cercle. Through site visits, outreach and surveys with local authorities, miners, civil organizations, and ministries of the federal government, FDS was able to strengthen the awareness of many stakeholders, including local authorities and policy makers, about the dangers of mercury and the need to eliminate its use.

Awareness creation on the effects of mercury on human health and the environment in Ghana.

Ecological Restorations organized several activities to promote awareness about existing sources of mercury pollution and advocate for policy changes to protect human and environmental health. Policy makers, artisanal gold miners, journalists, researchers and members of the community all were targeted with various types of educational media. Additionally, Ecological Restorations held a workshop in which officials from the Ghananian EPA were invited to discuss future policy changes.

Awareness on Health and Safety of people living near Berati former plant ULAB (Used Lead Acid Batteries)

The EDEN Center conducted a ground-breaking assessment of the area around an abandoned battery plant to test for lead contamination. After a series of stakeholder meetings and workshops, residents of Uznova (Municipality of Berat) agreed to answer questions about lead exposure and give blood samples for testing. Air, soil, and water were also tested. A report with the findings of the assessment (and recommendations) was delivered to government agencies, shared with the community, and distributed through the media.

Awareness Campaign to Educate Community about the Hazards of Mercury to Health & Environment

The Arab Network for Environment and Development (RAED), through its secretariat Arab Office for Youth and Environment (AOYE), conducted a regional workshop for 40 participants representing NGOs, media, scientific experts, and government officials from eight countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon) to enhance the international efforts towards reducing mercury usage and pave the way towards complete elimination.

Fish & Community Mercury Monitoring Project in Costa Rica

Samples of fish and human hair were collected and tested for mercury in Colorado, Costa Rica, an area located close to the Abangares Gold Mine. Residents from this area are primarily fishermen and their families, and they subsist primarily on fish from the local fishery. Previous analyses in the area have revealed high levels of mercury, a strong indicator that residents also have high levels of mercury in their bodies.

Survey and Policy Advocacy on the Management of Used Cell Phone Batteries

Responding to the lack of regulation on E-waste in Thailand, Ecological Alert and Recovery, Thailand (EARTH) researched the the amount of used cell phone batteries in Thailand and how they have been managed by surveying and interviewing cell phone sellers in selected markets (as well as mobile phone distributors, battery distributors, network service providers, and companies specializing in recycling). Following this, EARTH compiled a report outlining their findings, which was used to raise awareness about the problem among national and local authorities as well as general consumers.

Fish & Community Mercury Monitoring Project in Uruguay

RAPAL Uruguay conducted research on how a chlorine making plant (EFICE) located close to Montevideo is likely responsible for mercury contamination of the surrounding towns and ecosystem. According to their research, there is strong evidence that mercury used during the chlorine making process has been contaminating the ecosystem and poisoning local residents. Unfortunately, due to a lack of transparency and government support, residents have not been able to address this issue.

Country Level Assessment for Mercury in Uganda

PROBICOU conducted the first ever situational assessment of mercury in Uganda. The study aimed to provide information to the Ugandan government so that the government could be helped to legislate a relevant policy on mercury. The study involved many activities, including document review, and site visits at mining communities, health care institutions, government departments, and waste dumping sites. A critical part of this project involved a sensitization workshop organized for traders in Kampala with the goals of obtaining first hand community views on the effects of mercury exposure.

Mercury: Byproduct and Source of Contamination of Large-Scale Gold and Silver Mining

Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales (OLCA) conducted a literature review and community based research in order to produce a report detailing the contamination and pollution coming from two open pit gold and silver mines in Chile. Among other results, OLCA found that both these mines use a very toxic process (cyanide) for extracting these metals, which has been found to leech mercury and cyanide into the environment. Additionally, workers at these mines were found to have symptoms consistent with mercury poisoning.

Mercury- Establishing framework for “Mercury free healthcare in Nigeria”: Campaign for Alternatives to Mercury in the Health Care Sector in Lagos State, Nigeria.

Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev) surveyed and interviewed employees of three Lagos area hospitals to document how mercury-containing devices are handled and disposed of. Questions were also asked about employee’s opinions concerning the transition of non-mercury-containing thermometers. Results of the surveying were then shared with relevant stakeholders at a day-long workshop at which potential policy and regulation changes concerning mercury use in hospital devices were discussed.