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Revista de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0124-0064


DIAZ-ARRIAGA, Farith A. Mercury in ASGM and its impact on water resources used for domestic water supply. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2014, vol.16, n.6, pp.947-957. ISSN 0124-0064.

In regions affected by artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), the inhalation of mercury vapor and the ingestion of fish contaminated with this metal constitute the main sources of mercury contamination that affect human health. Nevertheless, according to the World Health Organization, another source of contamination is polluted water. Although mercury in freshwater is usually found in very low concentrations because it is swiftly consumed by aquatic microorganisms, evidence shows that under specific circumstances its concentration in water can reach high levels, even surpassing the 2.0 μg/L stipulated by Colombian legislation for use as a domestic water supply. Mercury concentrations above 3.0 μg/L have been found in some Colombian municipalities, and above 8.0 μg/L in other regions around the world. Even though mercury consumption via water is a minor concern, along with other alimentary sources this low mercury concentration contributes to the total burden that affects human health.

Keywords : Mercury; watersupply; mining; water pollution; public health.

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