1872 Mining Law Fact #4
Published: March 17, 2003
A: A combined weight equal to the amount of toxic mercury released annually in the U.S. by multinational mining companies.
Each year, 3.1 million pounds-1550 tons-of mercury are released by the hardrock mining industry, surpassing the mercury output of power plants and all other industries in the U.S. combined. Yet there are no environmental standards for hardrock mining under the 1872 Mining Law.
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. Children and infants exposed to mercury often experience delays in developing motor skills like walking and talking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently expressed concern about an increase in women with elevated blood mercury levels, as this dangerous toxin can transfer through a placenta to a developing fetus, or to a newborn through breastfeeding-resulting in exposure at critical developmental ages.