Review of mercury pollution in Suriname

Review of mercury pollution in Suriname



Available online

4 Jul 2015

Found in Edition

2015, Volume 6, 531-543


Review article
Since the 1980’th small-scale gold mining is on the increase in Suriname. Most mining occurs in the eastern part of the country. In the small-scale gold mining the gold is usually amalgamated to mercury. An estimated 1 kg of mercury enters the environment for every kg of gold extracted, which means at least 10,000 kg of mercury released annually in the atmosphere and the aquatic environment of Suriname. In the aquatic environment bacteria may transform mercury into the extremely poisonous methyl mercury, which bio-accumulates in the food chain. As a result predatory fish will usually have high levels of methyl mercury in their tissues. Mercury poisoning causes many defects in animals and neurological health problems in humans. This review gives an overview of mercury pollution results for the aquatic environment, in the atmosphere and in humans in communities in the interior. Mercury pollution is not limited to the gold mining areas, because mercury is transported by water and wind to downstream and downwind areas. As a result predatory fish in most of central and western Suriname show high mercury levels as well. A possible explanation for the mechanism of polluting of undisturbed areas is given. Many communities in the interior show increased levels of mercury. Of four villages tested along the Saramacca River, the most upstream community, also upstream of any gold mining, showed the highest mercury levels. Villages with easy access to the capital, show lower mercury pollution because people are less dependent on local fish as a protein source. Mercury pollution also occurs in Paramaribo in the vicinity of gold shops. An overview of the gaps in our knowledge of mercury pollution in Suriname is presented.




Mercury, gold mining, Suriname


Only members can download articles. Sign up as member
Already registered? Login here

Paul E. Ouboter (3)

National Zoological Collection of Suriname, Anton de Kom University of Suriname, Leysweg, Paramaribo, Suriname
16-Dec-2015 10:12:39
Paul Ouboter  

Geachte Ryan Kotzebue,

Helaas zit dat er voorlopig niet in. We hebben wel een keer gekeken naar rehabilitatie van zo''n gebied Arets et al., 2006, maar ook dat kan voorlopig niet uitgevoerd worden omdat de goudzoekers regelmatig terugkeren naar een gebied waar eerder al gemijnd is. Pas wanneer de goudkoorts over gaat, dwz waneer het goud zo goed als op is of de goudprijs heel laag zou zijn geworden, kan er nagedacht gaan worden over maatregelen.

Paul Ouboter

3-Sep-2015 23:01:59
Ryan Kotzebue  

Geachte Prof. Ouboter,

Echt een leuk artikel heeft u geschreven. Het is zeer ernstig het ongecontroleerde gebruik van kwik in Suriname. De overheid moet dit ernstiger aanpakken. Maar ik heb een vraag. Wordt er een environmental remediation or bioremediation gedaan om het kwik gehaalte te verlagen.


Ryan Kotzebue


Only members can comment on articles. Sign up as member
Already registered? Login here

Sign up as member
Forgot your password?

Anton de Kom Universiteit van Suriname

Telesur Mobiel Nederland

Join us on Facebook