Search for gold exacts price on forest—and miners


The miners sport gold rings, gold bracelets and gold watches. Flashy motorcycles race through the streets, and the casinos and brothels are full. But for all the outward signs of prosperity, much of the gold mining region in the northeastern department of Antioquia is desperately poor and sick. In 2007, doctors at the local hospital in the municipality of Remedios took random urine samples from 240 people. Of those, one-sixth showed signs of mercury poisoning. Studies of children in the area have detected memory and language problems, and around 15 kidney transplants related to mercury poisoning are performed each year. Mercury, used to separate gold from surrounding rock, is highly toxic and especially threatening to human health when vaporized as part of the gold... [Log in to read more]

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