The toxicity of some metals has been known for many years. The source of environmental discharge stems not only from mining and metal processing industries but also from metal users as well. In the 1960s in Japan, organic mercury contained in wastewater discharged from a chemical factory to coastal areas was taken up by edible fish and bio-accumulated. This resulted in very serious health damage to the local population. Harada et al. (2001) reported similar symptoms in a developing country, where mercury is used to collect gold dust in rivers. A complete picture of the environmental impacts of toxic metals discharged from mining and processing industries has yet to be compiled, although case studies for many hot spots have been conducted (e.g., Moiseenko et al. 2001).
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