AP Investigation Links African Gold Mining to Swiss Companies

A year-long investigation by the Associated Press released recently has linked small scale gold mining by African children with the purchase by Swiss companies, with the gold ending up stored in Swiss banks. Despite a lawsuit filed against the AP by a company in Switzerland–(“Earlier this year, Decafin unsuccessfully sued The AP in Switzerland to prevent its name from being published in this story, claiming it would unfairly damage the company’s reputation“)–the story finally ran. The AP reports that approximately 20% of the gold mined each year is by small scale miners, including children, who are often treated as commodities and subjected to brutal working conditions and life risking activities in pursuit of providing luxury goods to the wealthy. It’s estimated that between 650 and 1,000 metric tons of mercury are used each year by 15 million miners in more than 40 developing countries to extract the gold, exposing miners and pollution the local and global environment. The AP has provided links to 4 video clips that were produced as part of their investigations. It has several scenes of children using mercury to treat the gold. The video clips are posted on the left hand side of this Yahoo page under the title “AP Interactive”, or you can try the direct link. Numerous news outlets covered the story, including ABC News, The Washington Post (includes short slideshow), and USA Today.

US House Subcommittee Calls on FDA to Reform Dental Mercury Rules

After two congressional oversight hearings (at which MPP recently testified, see posts below) concerning the environmental release of dental mercury, a US House Government Oversight subcommittee is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to reform its rulemaking on dental mercury, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. In a July 28, 2008 letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, Domestic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Kucinich reminded FDA of its statutory duty under NEPA to prepare an environmental impact statement or conduct an environmental assessment as part of the rulemaking process in reclassifying dental mercury, classifying encapsulated amalgam alloy and dental mercury or issuing special controls for amalgam alloy.

New Web Site Helps Kids Identify the Healthiest Fish to Eat

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a new Web site at to help children and their parents choose the healthiest fish to eat, using interactive stories and games. Whether they catch their own fish or buy it at a store, children and their parents can use the Web site to learn how to select fish that are low in contaminants. The Web site includes stories focusing on different methods of obtaining fish, along with interactive games, to teach children ages 8-12 how to recognize common fish species and use fish advisories. The site can be viewed at: www.epa.gov/fishadvisories/kids/