Nigeria: Mercury in Gold Mining

Negotiations for an international treaty to limit the use of mercury should seek to protect the health rights of artisanal gold mining communities, such as those in Bagega, Nigeria. Mercury is highly toxic that attacks the central nervous system, causing tremors and twitching, memory loss, brain damage, or other neurological and behavioral disorders. It can also damage the kidneys and the lungs. Mercury is particularly harmful to children and can cause developmental problems and irreversible brain damage. Under international human rights law, work with hazardous substances and processes is classified among the worst forms of child labor. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining – gold mining without industrial equipment – is one of the largest sectors for mercury use globally and 13 million people worldwide, including children, work in artisanal gold mining and use mercury to extract gold from the ore.
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