During July and August 2021, together with our peruvian partner, Centro Labor, we realized a new investigation in the mining city of Cerro de Pasco. Due to our inability to travel, we worked hardly but remotely to plan and train local peruvian staff to develop usefull researches.
The main goals of this last investigation have been:
1) to assess outdoor and, for the first time, indoor air quality inside houses closed to the mining plants and mining waste disposals; and
2) to evaluate the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of children population exposed to neurotoxic chemicals released by mining activities.
A local psychologist team, Superdotados Peru, took part in our project traveling to Pasco for two weeks to assess 97 Children's IQ and sampling their hair to analyze heavy metals concentrations.
Human exposure to heavy metals is a major health problem throughout the world. Some heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, zinc, arsenic, iron, and cadmiumca can use neurological toxicity.
They are of particular concern because of the long-lasting and possibly irreversible nature of its effects. Exposure to heavy metals in childhood can result in cognitive and behavioral deficits in children. Disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder, mental retardation and cerebral palsy are common but dangerous as it can cause a lifelong disability.
In particular, lead and mercury are neurotoxic metals that are especially damaging to children's neurodevelopment. Cadmium is of particular concern because of its known skeletal toxicity, nephrotoxicity, and carcinogenicity, but uncertainty about developmental neurotoxicity remains. Metals in excess are detrimental to neurodevelopmental processes and have neurotoxic effects that impair cognitive function.
Therefore, heavy metals may be involved in susceptibility to attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is characterized by inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, it is among the most common psychiatric disorders that occur in children. Studies have reported that environmental toxins, especially lead and mercury, contribute to the risk of ADHD.
On the interaction of various metals, it is evidenced that neurotoxic substances such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, manganese and lead negatively affect the areas of the brain associated with language, memory and executive function, as well as psychosocial behavior. An Italian study has shown how higher levels of managenso, lead and copper in adolescents were associated with lower IQ scores.
Our standard methodology foresees to compare an exposed population (to the mining activities) with a not-exposed population to adapt the impacts to a more detailed reality. Every steps of our investigation is based on this comparison between Cerro de Pasco, that host an open mine pit, lots of mining waste disposals and mining plants, and the city of Carhuamayo free from mining activities. Actually near this rural community a mining exploration project is already active.
A team of psicologists applied the Wechlers Scale IV to 97 children (80 from the mining city of CDP and 17 from Carhuamayo) between 6-16 years olds to analyze:
It expresses skills in the formation of verbal concepts, expression of relationships between concepts, richness and precision in the definition of words, social understanding, practical judgment, acquired knowledge, and verbal agility and intuition.
Measures constructive practical skills, formation and classification of non-verbal concepts, visual analysis and simultaneous processing Operant memory.
It measures the capacity of retention and storage of information, to operate mentally with this information, to transform it and to generate new information.
It measures the ability to focus attention, explore, order and / or discriminate visual information quickly and effectively. It consists of subtests that are developed under time control.
Summarizing the IQ results, we observe that the average value of the IQ of the exposed population(CIT 82.5) is 12.3 points less compared to the average value of the not-exposed sample of Carhuamayo (CIT 94.8). As you can see in the graph below, only 59% of the exposed children sample has an IQ higher than the national average value set at 82, compared to 94% of the children of Carhuamayo.
All these data will be interpolated with the hair data soon to understand how the heavy metals concentration (measured through the hair) in the body is damaging the neurological functions of children population.
In less than 30 days, we will come back with a new update report!
Meanwhile you can still supporting all this usefull investigation, donating to the project here!