Chemical Compounds And Its Effects On The Environment

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Veiga & Baker established that the main pathways of Hg to humans living in close proximity to ASGM sites are the “inhalation of Hg vapor from amalgam burning and gold melting, and the ingestion of methyl mercury from dietary sources, especially fish.”3 Additionally, according to Bank, the chemical forms by which people are exposed to mercury are: • Inorganic compounds (Hg combined with chloride, hydroxide, sulfide, dissolved organic matter (DOM); or other noncarbon species) • Elemental (or metallic) mercury, and • Organic compounds (Hg combined with methyl, ethyl, or other carbon species).9 It seems that the risk of contamination by mercury through water consumption is very low according to Veiga and Baker. These authors claim that because the stability and brief residence time of MeHg in aquatic systems (MeHg is readily consumed by microorganisms at the base of the food chain), its concentration in natural ecosystems is extremely low. Even further, they say, “if people are drinking unfiltered water full of suspended particles, it seems that Hg is the least health problem related to this.” 3 Bank, as well as many other authors, agrees that the major impact on human health is due to inhalation of vapor mercury and MeHg intake through fish.9 However, this author states that mercury toxicity on human health depends on different factors such as the route of exposure, the dose consumed, and the age of the person. Additionally, citing other authors, Bank claims that,
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