Video’s Emphasis on Mercury Pollution in Third World Gold Mining

Holistic dentistry talks a lot about the dangers of silver amalgam fillings which can contain alarming amounts of mercury. Although we may be making some progress in regards to raising awareness on this important issue, all too many Americans still have silver mercury amalgam fillings. Some estimates say that up to 85 percent of Americans today have at least one silver filling and each of those fillings contain approximately 50 percent mercury. Americans and Europeans actually have more mercury in their mouths than exists in all manmade products combined – estimated at more than 1,000 tons.

In the United States, outside of dental use, mercury exposure generally originates from pollution from coal plants which in turn pollute ground soil and waterways and infect fish populations. For an expanded perspective on mercury use on the global scale we invite you to view a YouTube video created by the Blacksmith Institute. The video series called Mercury: the Burning Issue shows how Indonesian miners use raw mercury to discharge small amounts of gold from rock. This practice of drawing gold out using mercury is quite literally hundreds of years old. Ancient Romans were known to force slaves and criminals to mine in exactly this same manner using mercury. The mercury method is fast and cheap, creating a cleaner gold product than panning. Today, with gold values at over $1,000 an ounce, the poor and the greedy find it difficult to gold mining in any other way.

Why Mercury Use is a Problem For You

Mercury mining is a concern for everyone, no matter where on the planet we live. Although today mercury is mined mostly in China where it is supplied strictly to local users, most of the mercury in use in third world countries is filtering onto the black market from Europe and the United States. Ironically, mercury recyclers are collecting the substance from discarded light bulbs and other mercury laden devices with the intent of proper usage — however, illegal brokers are largely unregulated by any government entity, and this mercury is easily conveyed to market. Many of the countries involved in this type of mining ban the import of industrial mercury, but they can import all the so called “dental mercury” they can get their hands on.

Mercury is so toxic to the human body that when it comes in contact with skin, miners are exposed to high levels of the substance and as a result are rapidly dying from the primitive working conditions. Some 15 million gold miners, including 4.5 million women and no less than 600,000 children, are poisoned by direct contact with toxic mercury. In addition, mercury pollution flows out from the gold mines directly into rivers, oceans and seas, contaminating seafood far and wide. In this way, mercury is accumulating in the food chain, so that families and bystanders are being poisoned as they eat meals and generally go about their lives.

A Simple Solution to a Difficult Problem

Mercury dealers argue against regulating the use of mercury, insisting that by restricting mercury trade black marketers will be forced to go into the mercury mining business. However, these video showcase a solution that has recently been introduced to the miners – a simple system called a retort that can recapture mercury used in the gold mining process. This retort has been relatively successful in reducing the amount of toxic mercury emissions. ‘Mercury: the Burning Issue’ documents Blacksmith Institute’s project in Indonesia aimed at reducing mercury poisoning from the gold mining process, thereby saving the lives of innumerable miners, locals and anyone who might be contaminated by mercury infected fish from virtually anywhere the world.

To learn more about how Blacksmith is working with UNIDO’s Global Mercury Project in Senegal, Indonesia, Mozambique, and Cambodia visit their website or log onto YouTube to view the videos. To learn more about the use and hazards of mercury in silver dental amalgams visit “The Scientific Case Against Mercury Amalgam.”

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