The Huancavelica Heavy Metals Project is led by the Environmental Health Council, a 501(c)3 organization, and is dedicated to helping residents in Huancavelica, Peru, reduce their exposure to mercury vapor and contaminated soil and dust in their adobe homes.
Huancavelica is one of the world’s most mercury contaminated urban areas as a result of hundreds of years of cinnabar refining there. Beginning in the 1560s, the mercury produced in Huancavelica enabled the production of silver in the Andes and elsewhere through the amalgamation process. This production played an important role in the emergence of sustained global trade networks and today’s global economy, and left a legacy of mercury, lead and arsenic contamination in the city.
Our work is grounded in years of scientific research in the city, which has involved the collection and analysis of hundreds of soil, dust and air samples from participant’s adobe homes.
The results indicate that 75% have levels of elemental mercury vapor, or mercury-contaminated adobe, above internationally accepted criteria and pose an ongoing health risk to residents.
Our research team is international and interdisciplinary, involving Peruvian and American researchers drawn from fields such as medicine, public health, biostatistics, geology, heavy metals remediation, anthropology, community development, and ethnohistory. In Peru, our research is carried out in cooperation with the National University of Huancavelica, and also with the assistance of community leaders, outreach specialists and, most importantly, the 118 participants in our study.
We’ve studied the problem, and now we’re doing something about it!
Right now, thousands of women, children and men in Huancavelica are breathing mercury vapor in their homes and ingesting toxic dust.
Please, sponsor a room, floor or an entire home!