Mercury still affects Indian villages

June 5, 2012 at 2:01 AM
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TORONTO, June 5 (UPI) -- Residents of two Indian communities in Canada suffer from mercury poisoning decades after the chemical was dumped in area waters, a Japanese researcher said.

Masuzumi Harada said 59 percent of residents of Grassy Narrows and White Dog in western Ontario show signs of mercury poisoning, the Toronto Star reported. Only 160 people still live in the two villages near the Manitoba border and Harada found 59 percent have symptoms of mercury poisoning.

About 44 percent of those age 21 to 41 show symptoms. They were born after the dumping was stopped and commercial fishing halted in the English River and its tributaries.

Harada, author of "Mercury Contamination on Indigenous Communities in Ontario, Canada," first visited the communities in 1975. He found people with the symptoms of "Minimata disease," exposure to mercury in a Japanese community that became a symbol of the consequences of pollution.

"The situation is very worrisome for us," Chief Simon Fobister said. "We still live with the results of contamination."

Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne said an advisory against eating fish from the English River system remained in effect.

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