“It could be a danger to his health.” A recent discovery by several scientists from the Catholic University of Australia has revealed the existence of high levels of mercury contamination in ancient Mayan cities.

Specifically, an article published by Frontiers in Environmental Science explains that large concentrations of mercury were concentrated in the subsoil of these cities, which is due to the frequent use of this element and products containing it during the classical period, which could have been a danger to your health.

In addition, said study adds that this contamination is, in some places, so strong that even today it could be a potential danger.

Discovering mercury buried deep in the soils and sediments of ancient Mayan cities “is difficult to explain until we start to consider the archeology of the region, which tells us that the Mayans used mercury for centuries,” explained the lead author, Duncan Cook of the Australian Catholic University.

“Extraordinary amounts of mercury”

The team reviewed for their study all data on mercury concentrations in soil and sediment from archaeological sites of the ancient Mayan world.

Concentrations range between 0.016 parts per million in Actuncan and up to “the extraordinary figure” of 17.16 parts per million in Tikal. The toxic effect threshold (TET) for mercury in sediment is defined as 1 parts per million.

To search for the origin of this contamination, the authors point out that they have found sealed vessels filled with liquid mercury at Mayan sites such as Quiriqua (Guatemala), El Paraíso (Honduras) and the ancient multi-ethnic megalopolis of Teotihuacan (central Mexico).

Elsewhere in the Maya region, archaeologists found objects painted with paints containing mercury, mainly made with the mineral cinnabar or vermilion. Therefore, they conclude that the ancient Maya frequently used paints and powders containing cinnabar for decoration, a mercury that could have leaked from the patios, floor areas, walls and ceramics, and later spread to the ground and air. Water. But unbeknownst to him, “it was also deadly, and its legacy persists in the soils and sediments of ancient Mayan sites,” he added.

all this mercury would have posed a health hazard to the ancient Mayathe study points out, since the effects of chronic poisoning by this element include damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and liver, tremors, vision and hearing problems, paralysis and mental health problems.

The team considers what needs to be done more investigations to determine if exposure to mercury played a role in socio-cultural changes and trends broader in the Mayan world, such as those that occurred towards the end of the classic period