News FocusMercury Pollution

Gold's Dark Side

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Science  27 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6153, pp. 1448-1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6153.1448

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As world gold prices have surged, small-scale "artisanal" gold mining has become the world's leading source of mercury pollution. Miners use the metal to separate flecks of gold from soupy slurry—and then dump or burn off the excess. The result: contaminated water, air, and dangerous exposure. But getting the world's some 15 million miners to adopt alternatives is proving to be an enormous challenge.