Women of childbearing age from around the world have been found to have high levels of mercury, a potent neurotoxin which can seriously harm unborn children.

IPEN’s new study, the largest to date, covered 25 of the countries with the highest risk and found excessive levels of the toxic metal in women. This results from their reliance on eating fish, which concentrate the mercury pollution found across the world’s oceans and much of which originates from coal burning.

Can read more about the report in The Guardian here.

The Bangkok Post reports…

High levels of the toxic heavy metal mercury have been detected in people and the environment in eight provinces across the country where heavy industry, gold mining and coal-fired power plants are concentrated, according to a study. The findings have raised fears over brain damage in newborn children.

By the end of the third week of gestation in humans, the foetal brain has already begun its formation and mercury poisoning during this early period can result in severe abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.

The Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (Earth) environmental group, supported by the International POPs Elimination Network (Ipen), collected hair samples from 68 people in Prachin Buri and Rayong provinces last year.

Further, as seen in IPEN’s infographic, gold mining and industrial pollution in Myanmar and Thailand respectively, are the leading causes for women of childbearing age in these two countries to harbor mercury concentrations in excess of twice the level that causes brain damage, IQ loss and kidney and heart damage.