Countries’ reporting fails to tell full story of mercury pollution – by Staff ( – March 26, 2023)

A recent study of baseline mercury emission estimates by artisanal gold mining reported by 25 countries—many in developing African, South American and Asian nations—found that these estimates rarely provide enough information to tell whether shifts in the rate from one year to the next were the result of actual change or data uncertainty.

Key variables—like how the country determines the amount of its gold production—can result in vastly different baseline estimates. Yet, countries often don’t report this range of possible estimates.

According to the study, about 15 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners around the world risk their lives every day facing hazardous working conditions that include constant exposure to mercury—a potent neurotoxin.

Mercury vapours cause debilitating effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal. The hazardous gold mining process that employs mercury also accounts for roughly 40% of all man-made mercury emissions, making it the largest source of this type of pollution, UN data show.

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