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Article

Economic Impacts on Human Health Resulting from the Use of Mercury in the Illegal Gold Mining in the Brazilian Amazon: A Methodological Assessment

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Leonardo B. Bakker Assessoria, São Clemente Street, Rio de Janeiro 254, Rio de Janeiro 22260-004, Brazil
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Conservation Strategy Fund, Av. Churchill 129, Rio de Janeiro 20020-050, Brazil
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Julia Queiroz Consultoria Desenvolvimento Verde, Maria Angelica Street, Rio de Janeiro 382, Rio de Janeiro 22461-152, Brazil
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Laboratory of Professional Education in Health Surveillance, Joaquim Venâncio Polytechnic School of Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro 21040-900, Brazil
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Masayuki Sakakibara, Win Thiri Kyaw and José Luis Rivera Parra
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11869; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211869
Received: 23 September 2021 / Revised: 6 November 2021 / Accepted: 9 November 2021 / Published: 12 November 2021
Artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in the Amazon results in the dumping of tons of mercury into the environment annually. Despite consensus on the impacts of mercury on human health, there are still unknowns regarding: (i) the extent to which mercury from ASGM can be dispersed in the environment until it becomes toxic to humans; and (ii) the economic value of losses caused by contamination becomes evident. The main objective of this study is to propose a methodology to evaluate the impacts of ASGM on human health in different contexts in the Brazilian Amazon. We connect several points in the literature based on hypotheses regarding mercury dispersion in water, its transformation into methylmercury, and absorption by fish and humans. This methodology can be used as a tool to estimate the extent of environmental damage caused by artisanal gold mining, the severity of damage to the health of individuals contaminated by mercury and, consequently, can contribute to the application of fines to environmental violators. The consequences of contamination are evaluated by dose-response functions relating to mercury concentrations in hair and the development of the following health outcomes: (i) mild mental retardation, (ii) acute myocardial infarction, and (iii) hypertension. From disability-adjusted life years and statistical life value, we found that the economic losses range from 100,000 to 400,000 USD per kilogram of gold extracted. A case study of the Yanomami indigenous land shows that the impacts of mercury from illegal gold mining in 2020 totaled 69 million USD, which could be used by local authorities to compensate the Yanomami people. View Full-Text
Keywords: mercury; methylmercury; artisanal small-scale gold mining; Amazon; human health; economic valuation mercury; methylmercury; artisanal small-scale gold mining; Amazon; human health; economic valuation
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MDPI and ACS Style

de Bakker, L.B.; Gasparinetti, P.; de Queiroz, J.M.; de Vasconcellos, A.C.S. Economic Impacts on Human Health Resulting from the Use of Mercury in the Illegal Gold Mining in the Brazilian Amazon: A Methodological Assessment. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 11869. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211869

AMA Style

de Bakker LB, Gasparinetti P, de Queiroz JM, de Vasconcellos ACS. Economic Impacts on Human Health Resulting from the Use of Mercury in the Illegal Gold Mining in the Brazilian Amazon: A Methodological Assessment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(22):11869. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211869

Chicago/Turabian Style

de Bakker, Leonardo B., Pedro Gasparinetti, Júlia M. de Queiroz, and Ana C.S. de Vasconcellos. 2021. "Economic Impacts on Human Health Resulting from the Use of Mercury in the Illegal Gold Mining in the Brazilian Amazon: A Methodological Assessment" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 22: 11869. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211869

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