Mercury pollution in Peru: geographic distribution, health hazards, and sustainable removal technologies

Fernando G. Torres, Gabriel E. De-la-Torre

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Peru is one of the great gold producers worldwide. However, a significant portion of the gold produced in Peru derives from artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in the Andes and Amazon. In ASGM, gold amalgamation with mercury (Hg) is a critical procedure to refine gold through the formation of Au-Hg alloys. Due to the rudimentary and improvised techniques conducted by small-scale and informal miners, Hg contamination has become of great concern and is strictly associated with ASGM. Multiple studies have evidenced notably high concentrations of Hg in consumable fish species, rivers, sediments, and air in locations where ASGM is one of the main sources of income to local communities and is carried out aggressively. In the present review, we have conducted a systematic search for national and international literature reporting the concentration and distribution of Hg pollution across environmental compartments, biota, and human samples in Peru. The results and data retrieved from the articles were quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed, and the distribution of Hg across environmental compartments was visualized through a geographic information system. Additionally, we reviewed the use of adsorption techniques as alternatives to treat Hg0 vapor from the gold shop and smelter flues, one of the main sources of hazardous levels of Hg exposure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amalgam
  • Amazon
  • Hg
  • Madre de Dios
  • Mining
  • Vapor

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