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ICMGP 2022 – On-Demand / Poster Presentation

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Abstract Title: The Situation Room about Mercury in the Amazon: Current Challenges
Company/Institution: Federal University of Pará (BRAZIL)
Session: Special Session - Mercury in the Southern Hemisphere

Abstract Information :

Latin America is the world?s second largest contributor to global mercury air pollution. Approximately 75% of Latin America?s emissions originate in the Amazon, mainly from gold mining activities. Although this economic activity in the Amazon continues to be considered as ?Artisanal and/or Small-Scale? in international reports, this is far from reality, representing a critical misunderstanding that contributes to maintaining the false impression of relatively limited impact and mainly artisanal character. Indeed, it is very common to find heavy machinery, such as diggers as dredges, at gold-mining sites. Brazilian legislation, for example, includes performing this activity in large areas of up to 10,000 hectares each, as well as the use of any heavy machinery, without the need for any prior impact assessment. Since 2018, new legislations and reduced surveillance have significantly increased the extent and impacts of this activity, as demonstrated by data from MAPBIOMAS and newspapers. Our systematic review of studies performed with Amazonian populations, especially in vulnerable communities including indigenous and riverine populations, has demonstrated that individuals are exposed to 3-6 times the levels recommended by agencies as WHO or USEPA. Also, neurological alterations, typical of Minamata disease, have been found associated with the high mercury levels presented by these communities. These vulnerable populations also show very high cardiovascular risk that can lead to long-term consequences. Worryingly, possible synergic interactions between these symptoms and COVID-19 sequelae are completely unknown to date. The situation in the Amazon is critical and urgent. Although Brazil is signatory of the Minamata Convention since 2013 and ratified it in 2017, no Minamata Convention Initial Assessment has been performed to date. The Amazonian populations await the fulfillment of the promise made to the world.

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