Mercury Contamination Along the Mekong River, Cambodia

One of ten dolphins that died in the Mekong River had a presumed lethal concentration of mercury (67 ppm) in its liver.   The mercury content of fish at Kratie was on average 102 ng/g (n=137) but in some species it was up to six fold higher.  Hair in people collected in the drainage basin with gold mines (Ratanakirri) had significantly more mercury in their hair (4.4 ppm) than those living along the northern portion of the Mekong River (3.4 ppm).  Males had significantly more mercury than woman (5.2 vs 3.1 ppm, respectively). Individuals had as much as 22 ppm of mercury in their hair.  The concentration of mercury in a few percent of Khmers exceeds that in areas where mercury is associated with mercury poisoning.  Gold mines in Cambodia are likely the major source of mercury but tree cores indicated a major flux of mercury associated with deforestation.  Further analysis is required to determine what sources of mercury are manageable in Cambodia.     


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Resource Development International
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