Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Indonesia facing growing mercury pollution issue

Mercury pollution isn't exactly getting the headlines like this is the case with some other forms of pollution, though in some areas of the world this form of pollution should be taken very seriously. One of the countries affected with mercury pollution is Asian country, Indonesia.

It has been said that the main source of mercury pollution in Indonesia is small-scale gold mining. Many poor people in Indonesia are interested in gold mining as this not only gives them hope for the future but it is also relatively easy to apprehend.

The simple gold mining process includes mixing mercury and water with gold ore to form an amalgam. This amalgam is then heated to remove mercury by the process of evaporation, leaving behind the gold. So what's the issue here? Well, the water containing mercury residue is usually discarded directly into rivers.

Mercury can cause major health issues. It has been said that chronic poisoning can result in damage to the kidneys and the reproductive system, and on the other hand the lungs and central nervous system can also be severely affected.

The additional problem is that many people aren't aware of the dangers of mercury poisoning which is really no surprise given Indonesia's lack of adequate funds.

Professor Takanobu Inoue of Toyohashi Tech's Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering who studied the mercury pollution issue in Indonesia has called for collaboration between the different research institutes in order to get a more comprehensive study with actual numbers.

The United Nations Environment Program, estimated that in 2011 approximately 70 tonnes of mercury was discharged into the environment though this number does not cover illegal import meaning that the actual figure in Indonesia is likely to be significantly higher.

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