CAMEP builds on a pilot study conducted in 2009 - 2010 by scientists from Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University in California USA, with assistance from the Amazon Conservation Association and the Peru’s Ministry of Production. This study found high levels mercury contamination in many of the most consumed fish species sold in the fish markets in Madre de Dios.
CAMEP expands on this important first study by collecting fish directly from the region’s rivers and lakes, in addition to fish collected in the markets, and directly testing the amount of mercury absorbed by people through the consumption of wild caught fish.
Since January 2012, CAMEP researchers, consisting of local fishers, specialists from Peruvian universities and NGOs, and scientists from Carnegie Institution for Science, have worked together to collect hundreds of biological samples from more than 20 fish species in 8 watersheds throughout Madre de Dios.
CAMEP researchers analyzed the mercury concentrations of the muscle tissue of 15 species of commonly consumed wild caught fish which were purchased in several markets in Puerto Maldonado during August 2012.
To determine the effect of eating these fish and the levels of general mercury exposure of the population, the CAMEP project offered free mercury hair testing to 226 adults in Puerto Maldonado during May to August 2012. A survey was given to the participants, asking about fish consumption and mercury exposure history. These fish and hair samples were analyzed for total mercury at a dedicated mercury analysis laboratory established at the Environmental and Computational Chemistry Group at the University of Cartagena, Colombia.