Buyat Bay (BB), North Sulawesi, Indonesia, was a submarine tailings disposal (STD) site for an industrial gold mine that extracted mercury (Hg)-containing ores from 1996 to 2004. To evaluate the distribution and influence of such a Hg release into the environment, particularly into BB, we quantified the total mercury (THg) and methyl mercury (MeHg) in the surface sediments (beach, river estuary, and marine) and biota of the bay, as well as the scalp hair of residents in the adjacent community. A nearby body of water, Totok Bay, polluted by Hg from artisanal gold mining, and a reference area of the Bajo Coast (Bajo) free of any anthropogenic sources of Hg were also sampled. Both THg and MeHg were detected in all samples measured showed concentrations to be highest at the artisanal mining site, intermediate at the STD site and at their lowest in the control area. THg and MeHg concentrations in marine biota and human hair increased with trophic levels and were significantly higher at the STD site than among the controls. Besides examining the source and distribution of Hg, its accumulation in biota, and its potential impact on humans, we also studied the role of the mine management so as to provide a recommendation for future actions.
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The authors wish to thank the National Institute for Minamata Disease (NIMD), Japan, and the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences, Sam Ratulangi University, Indonesia, for supporting this investigation. Additional support was provided by an NSERC Discovery Grant and by Memorial University internal grants to the third author. We are also grateful to Mr. Tsuruda who provided variable assistance in the laboratory at the Natural Sciences Laboratory, NIMD. This paper is dedicated to the memory of Baby Andini.
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Lasut, M.T., Yasuda, Y., Edinger, E.N. et al. Distribution and Accumulation of Mercury Derived from Gold Mining in Marine Environment and Its Impact on Residents of Buyat Bay, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Water Air Soil Pollut 208, 153–164 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-009-0155-0
- Methyl mercury
- Submarine tailings disposal (STD)
- Artisanal mining