by Lee Bell
IPEN and Biodiversity Research Institute, September 2017
Toxic levels of mercury are widespread in women of childbearing age in 25 countries due to gold mining, industrial pollution and fish-rich diets. Women in the Pacific islands were the most pervasively contaminated, likely from eating fish, while women in Indonesia had the highest levels, likely from mercury used in small-scale gold mining. Other affected areas include Alaska, Chile, Kenya, Paraguay, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria and Ukraine. High levels of mercury can cause brain damage in developing fetuses and brain, heart and kidney damage in adults.