001_Lombok, Indonesia (2020): 35 meters deep, with little oxygen, the rocky walls are hammered. All work takes place with simple equipment, without electricity.

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The invisible evil (Mercury poisoning in Indonesia)

Erberto Zani | Indonesia

Organization: Freelance

Minamata’s disease is caused by chronic mercury poisoning. This metal, used in hundreds of illegal gold mines in the forests of Indonesia, is contaminating the environment: That is why it would be incomplete to talk about mercury poisoning without documenting the world of illegal gold mining. To amalgamate the gold powder, during the phase of separation from the stone and from the earth residues, mercury is used: the process releases toxic substances in liquid and gaseous form, poisoning the miners themselves and polluting the environment and the aquifers. Miners, who have worked for years in contact with mercury, have developed neurological degenerative diseases. But the spillage of gold mining waste has contaminated also the aquifers upstream: the villages downstream from the mines, using water with mercury for drink and to irrigate crops. On West Java people have these kind of diseases. Pregnant women have passed mercury to the fetus without their knowledge causing irreversible damage to the unborn child with morphological and anatomical abnormalities. The syndrome is manifested by neurological problems, muscle weakness, visual, auditory and cognitive deficits, hydrocephaly. Paralysis or coma can also occur until death. 


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