Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Investigating mercury pollution in Indonesia

Date:
September 26, 2013
Source:
Toyohashi University of Technology
Summary:
The main source of this pollution today is small-scale gold mining. Gold mining is easy to learn and simple to operate, so for people living on the poverty line, it offers hope for the future, but creates a pollution problem to the local environment.

Professor Takanobu Inoue of Toyohashi Tech's Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering has been conducting field surveys of mercury poisoning in Indonesia for over a decade. His findings have serious implications and the situation is not improving.

"The main source of this pollution today is small-scale gold mining," says Inoue, who is an expert on water environmental engineering. "Gold mining is easy to learn and simple to operate, so for people living on the poverty line, it offers hope for the future."

When there is no sophisticated technology available, gold mining involves simply mixing mercury and water with gold ore to form an amalgam. The mixture is then heated to remove the mercury by evaporation -- most likely without any filtering -- leaving behind the gold, while the water containing mercury residue is usually discarded directly into rivers.

Mercury is a heavy metal that can cause disability and death to miners, and to their families who become exposed to it through contaminated clothing and other items. Chronic poisoning can result in damage to the kidneys and the reproductive system, while the lungs and central nervous system can also be severely affected.

"It is necessary to educate the people on the dangers of mercury poisoning," says Inoue. "But there are few environmental researchers in the country, and the equipment they have to test for poisoning is limited, as are funds and government support."

As a result, quantitative information on the extent of mercury pollution each year is scare and often inaccurate. The United Nations Environment Program, for instance, estimated that in 2011 approximately 70 tonnes of mercury was discharged into the environment. "But this UN figure is based on the import of mercury into Indonesia," says Inoue. "It does not take it account illegal imports, so the actual figure is certainly far higher."

Inoue has been sharing his findings with individual professors of several universities in Indonesian. He is encouraging them to join the Indonesia Society of Water and Aquatic Environment, where information can be shared and scientific papers on pollution presented and published at conferences.

To help impress on his Indonesian colleagues the dangers that exist, Inoue describes findings on the Minamata disease that was discovered in Minamata city, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of waste water containing mercury pollutants into Minamata Bay by a local chemical company, where it was ingested by marine animals, which were subsequently consumed by humans.

"We need research institutes to collaborate with each other to facilitate a comprehensive study on mercury pollution in Indonesia," says Inoue. "Such cooperation will enable monitoring of mercury concentrations in gold mining and the impact of this environmental pollutant on local people."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Toyohashi University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Toyohashi University of Technology. "Investigating mercury pollution in Indonesia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926102059.htm>.
Toyohashi University of Technology. (2013, September 26). Investigating mercury pollution in Indonesia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926102059.htm
Toyohashi University of Technology. "Investigating mercury pollution in Indonesia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926102059.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

AFP (Aug. 25, 2014) A factory in the industrial state of Sao Paulo produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins