Millions of people being contaminated with toxic mercury used in mines – by Greg Rasmussen (CBC News British Columbia – December 30, 2015)

Brandon Nichols knows first hand what it’s like to get poisoned by mercury. “I got mercury poisoning two or three times,” he told CBC news. “I got some serious headaches.”

The University of British Columbia grad student had been in South America, researching small scale gold mining operations in Ecuador and their use of mercury.

Mercury is widely used by the miners because it bonds with gold, allowing it be more easily separated from the ore hauled out of countless mines dotting the countryside.

The widespread use of the toxic liquid metal is creating a long lasting environmental hazard that starts with ore processing and travels all the way up the food chain. But much of it is hidden in remote corners of the developing world so it’s receiving little attention.

Nichols shot hours of video as he researched mining and processing techniques. Now he’s working on ways to reduce the use of mercury and its largely unregulated use in those remote places.

“If you were ever going to try and clean this up, I don’t know how you would,” he says, describing how rudimentary workshops have become mini toxic waste sites.

“These guys, they splash it around. The walls are contaminated, the floor, the miner. Essentially every square inch of the place is covered in mercury.”

He says the workers compound the problem when they then return home, covered with the invisible poison which then contaminates their homes and families.

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