A recent study by the Quebec Institute of Public Health finds alarming levels of harmful heavy metals from samples taken from children in La Oroya and Cerro de Pasco.

The study was carried out in 2016 at the request of Red Muqui. It analysed the hair, blood and urine of 24 children between 3 and 15 years old. All were found to have high levels of arsenic (which is known to cause cancer); 18 (15 from Cerro de Pasco and 3 from La Oroya) had high levels of lead in their blood.

Dr. Fernando Osores, who led the study, stated in an interview with EFE that “there are real health damages that the Ministry of Health doesn’t want to accept”. In a press conference organised by Red Muqui, he went further in saying that the state provides little or no information about medical evaluations that show heavy metal poisoning.

According to Conrado Olivera from Uniendo Manos Perú, the government has yet to establish a health policy that tackles the problems caused by exposure to heavy metals, including the removal of the environmental hazards that cause them. He also points to the case of San Mateo in the highlands of Lima region, where mining waste has not been removed and is still a source of water and soil contamination that could threaten the capital’s water supplies.