Resource Management, Networks and Spatial Contrasts in Human Mercury Contamination along the Rio Beni (Bolivian Amazon)

Celine Tschirhart, Pascal Handschumacher, Dominique Laffly, Eric Benefice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mercury is known to be a powerful neurotoxin, particularly in its organic form. Amazonian populations living along contaminated rivers are exposed to mercurial contamination through fish consumption, but spatial disparities of contamination have very seldom been explored. The problem was addressed along the river Beni, in the Bolivian Amazon. Fifteen communities have been studied by a multidisciplinary research team, to explore the socio-geographical determinants of contamination by mercury. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, from the community to the regional level, this paper shows how spatial contrasts of mercury contamination are determined by contrasted types of resource management and contrasted social networks from one community to another, and how the places’ and societies’ specificities play an essential role in the determination of the mercurial risk.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Ecology
Early online date10 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Mercury, Resource management, Network, Amazon, Bolivia

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