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Mercury behavior in a tropical environment – the case of small scale gold mining in Poconé, Brazil.
Uppsala University, Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences. LUVA. (Hylander)
2004 (English)In: Environmental Practice, Vol. 6, 13-26 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

An estimated 50 tons of mercury (Hg) have been emitted by gold

miners in the Bento Gomes river basin, in the municipality of

Pocone´, Brazil, since the 1980s. Since the mid-1990s, the state

agency for environmental protection, FEMA (Fundac¸a˜o Estadual

do Meio Ambiente de Mato Grosso), has enforced regulations to

reduce Hg emissions to air and water and has also implemented

an environmental assessment program. The objectives of this

study were to evaluate efforts to reduce emissions of Hg to air

and water from nine improved amalgamation centers, and to

assess the pollution level in sediment at 25 sites around Pocone´.

In spite of the fact that retorts were used, results showed large

emissions of Hg when burning amalgam, resulting in Hg air

concentrations above the limit for occupational air (50 microg/m3)

at all centers except one. Keeping washing water in closed

systems and dumping residues in specially prepared sites

reduced Hg emissions to watercourses. The average Hg

concentration of fine sediments (<74 microm) in the Bento Gomes

river basin was 104 ng Hg/g dry weight, three to four times

higher than the background level; large amounts of Hgcontaminated sediments are re-suspended during the rainy

season. In conclusion, present emissions to local watercourses

have been efficiently reduced, but the use of retorts in improved

amalgamation centers has not adequately reduced Hg emissions

to air, which is why the use of Hg remains an occupational and

environmental problem.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 6, 13-26 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-76452OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-76452DiVA: diva2:104364
Available from: 2006-03-03 Created: 2006-03-03 Last updated: 2011-01-12

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