A 60-day environmental state of emergency has been declared in Peru’s Amazon jungle districts due to mercury pollution.
This follows recent studies carried out on residents in the region, revealing dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies, that could lead to serious, chronic and complex health problems, particularly in children and pregnant women.
“The government has issued Supreme Decree 034-2016-PCM which declares a state of emergency in the 11 districts of the provinces of Manu, Tahuamanu and Tambopata for mercury pollution under the law of disaster risk management,” said Peru’s Environment Minister, Manuel Pulgar.
— Lulu Garcia-Navarro (@lourdesgnavarro) May 23, 2016
The pollution has been blamed on unsuitable practices by illegal and unregulated gold miners that have affected water bodies and the local population.
Authorities have advised residents in the affected areas not to eat a species of catfish common in the region that has also been contaminated by mercury.
The emergency period will be used to regulate illegal mining in the area as well as send medical aid and non-contaminated food supplies to residents.