Close to one-third of the inhabitants of a small Jalisco town located on the shore of Lake Chapala are afflicted with kidney damage caused by the presence of elevated levels of heavy metals, according to tests.
Kidney damage among residents of Agua Caliente, in the municipality of Poncitlán, has been documented for at least three years, while specialists from the University of Guadalajara have been performing tests in the area for a year.
The majority of the victims are between five and nine years old.
The tests have found traces of heavy metals, including lead and mercury, in urine samples.
During the first stage of the study, said University of Guadalajara professor Felipe Lozano, they found traces of metals that do not occur naturally in Mexico, such as tungsten, which is used in the production of light bulbs.
“We found that the people were urinating lead and molybdenum, a hard metal not produced in the country and used by the stainless steel industry. We also found mercury . . . among other metals in people’s homes, whose levels have yet to be quantified in order to determine how harmful they are,” Lozano told a press conference yesterday.
The results obtained from samples last taken in December suggest that at least 270 of the 950 inhabitants of Agua Caliente suffer some level of kidney damage.
The specialists have yet to determine a single cause so they have ruled out the water supply, which was originally suspected.
Instead, Lozano said diverse elements have contributed to the situation, citing the water supply, air, food and housing.
Specialists found that the diet of residents of Poncitlán was deficient in calories and protein, meaning the population is chronically malnourished.
The study noted that the principal crops of the region are corn, beans, and chayote squash, which are grown with an excess of agrochemicals.
Source: El Universal (sp)