Yucatecan children exposed to toxic substances due to water contamination


High levels of mercury in the urine of children

According to researchers who participated in the study “Environmental exposure of children to toxic trace elements in an urban area of ​​Yucatán”, the mercury residues found in “purified” water are due to the fact that the families of the participating children probably buy with more. This type of water is often “in low-quality and low-priced outlets”, run by companies “without effective purification procedures”.

In some cases, they add, the concentration of mercury residues is higher in this type of water than in “kitchen water”.

“The purified water outlets —which are in neighborhoods, equipped with self-service systems— are not regulated by the authorities and nobody guarantees their purity.”

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Without official control

The authorities also do not control the quality of “kitchen water” or tap (erroneously called “drinking water” by the people), which must meet the quality standards established in Mexico, he adds.

This water is supplied by the government itself, but the general population does not drink it because of its poor quality, the study says.

“The Mérida aquifer is the only source of fresh water in the region, but due to its karst nature, it is highly permeable, which facilitates infiltration and increases the vulnerability of groundwater to contamination. This situation is particularly serious in Mérida, since its wastewater is deposited in septic tanks, most of which are not built with the appropriate technical specifications or receive treatment ”.

Due to this situation, the water stored in the upper twenty meters of the aquifer is not suitable for human consumption, due to its high levels of nitrates, it is indicated.

The researchers also found large concentrations of mercury, above that allowed by the WHO, in the urine of nine of the children tested (26.5% of the total) and in the blood of four boys (11.7%), but not in most of the students included in the study.

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How to explain this, if the concentration of mercury in water is very high? The researchers answer that a first interpretation could be the high consumption of fish and shellfish — rich in mercury—, but according to the ethnographic research carried out in the homes of the children who participated in the research, the consumption of these foods was not significantly higher than the rest of the children in the study.

The cause of these high concentrations of mercury is found in the burning of garbage in homes and in the use of charcoal and firewood for cooking, activities that release mercury fumes into the atmosphere.

Mercury primarily affects the central nervous system, and it can also damage the kidneys and cause heart and skin disease. 


According to scientists, the presence of mercury in the body has a half-life of three days, but its elimination through the urine takes 60 to 90 days. If this metal enters the tissues of the central nervous system, it can stay there for many years.

Serious damage

“Toxic metals can cause serious harm, even in low doses.”

“Umán water, contaminated by pesticides”

Use of Agrochemicals for crops.

Uman.- Yucatán, with its two million inhabitants, has a toxic public health bomb that will explode in the coming years. Under the earth, in cenotes and pipes, agrochemicals run that contaminate the water consumed by all, which already generate diseases of slow appearance, but lethal: pesticides that resist the six-year term and the short-term vision of the rulers in turn; pesticides used by farmers without knowing the danger they represent. The contamination of the water goes beyond the Ring of CenotesIt’s the entire state, one million 514 thousand people exposed, at least. Three-quarters of the population of two million. The pesticides used in the field already desecrate the drinking water of Yucatán, that is, the water for human consumption, not only that which permeates the subsoil and is not treated.

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There are at least 40 municipalities inhabited by one million 514 thousand 542 people, out of a total population of one million 965 thousand, with the presence of carcinogenic agrochemicals in drinking water. The map is filled with red dots in the study for the Determination of organochlorine pesticides in water from supply well systems in municipalities of the state of Yucatan, Mexico, carried out by the Center for Regional Research “Dr. Hideyo Noguchi ”, from the Autonomous University of Yucatán (UADY), in 2015, obtained through a request for transparency to the National Water Commission (Conagua) of Yucatán and the Yucatán Health Secretariat (SSY), entities that commissioned the project confidentially.

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The presence of agrochemicals in the aquifer and drinking water implies health problems such as cancer, congenital malformations, fetal and infant death, and diseases in the central nervous system and the reproductive system for people who have contact with it, because they accumulate biologically in the human body through the intake of contaminated water. 

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Pesticides are accessible to anyone, they are easily acquired in the center of Mérida, and the cheapest cost 60 pesos for 200 milliliters, which yield 20 liters of the pesticide; or they are delivered to the peasants by the Yucatan government through social programs.

Their packaging warns of the danger of water contamination and they ask to avoid its use in permeable soils, such as Yucatecan. 

 In Mérida and the metropolitan area, as well as other important municipalities of the entity, high levels of contamination of heptachlor and heptachlor epoxide, endosulfan I, dieldrin, endrin, and aldrin are registered, among other agrochemicals. 

According to the Official Mexican Standard 010, on chemical pollutants in the work environment, those mentioned cause damage to the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, reproductive system, generate irritation in the lower respiratory tract, and headaches. 

NOM 127 is exceeded in drinking water plants in the 40 municipalities. When in chemicals the maximum is .03 μg / L, in many of them they appear in amounts higher than 50, 60, 80, and even 100 μg / L. 

The municipalities studied are, on the coast, from Celestún to San Felipe and Río Lagartos, including Progreso, Telchac Puerto, and Dzilam de BravoMérida and its metropolitan area (Mérida, Hunucmá, Kanasín, Caucel, Umán, and Abalá); The southern cone (agricultural zone), Tekax, Oxkutzcab, Ticul, Akil, Teabo, Muna, Tzucacab, Peto, Maxcanú, Chocholá, Kinchil, Kopomá, and Chapab; in the east, cattle area, Valladolid, Panabá, Tizimín, Espita, Chemax, and Buctzotz; and in the center and municipalities of the Ring of Cenotes, Izamal, Cuzamá, Huhí, Acancéh, Tecoh, Temax, Quintana Roo, Dzilam González and Dzoncahuich.  The analyzes made 360 ​​detections of organochlorine pesticides, as well as different metabolites, which are derived substances and that can even be more toxic. Borders only exist to demarcate populations, so if the study had covered 106 municipalities it is likely that high concentrations of these carcinogenic pesticides would also have been detected. 

Regarding Drinking Water, not all municipal presidents follow the recommendation of Japay to chlorinate the water to clean it. Sometimes, the Municipal Councils do not have the budget to invest in cleaning the water, so it continues to be contaminated and untreated, a situation that harms the people who use and consume it, because it makes them more prone to suffering from diseases, as cancer, and to this is added the use in agriculture in the Yucatan police stations.  

Source:  Hernán Casares Cámara, yucatan.com.mx, Paul Antoine Matos, somosumanenses.com.mx

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