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The cities of the ancient Maya in Mexico are always impressive. Mercury pollution can be found under the soil surface. The pollution is not modern because of the frequent use of mercury and mercury-laden products by the Maya of the Classic Period, between 250 and 1100CE. Unwary archeologists could be at risk from this pollution because it is so heavy.

Mercury pollution in the environment is found in contemporary urban areas and industrial landscapes according to the lead author. The archeology of the region tells us that the Maya were using mercury for hundreds of years.

Pollution from the past.

Cook and his colleagues reviewed all the data on mercury concentrations at archeological sites in the ancient Maya world. They show that there are sites from the Classical Period in today's Mexico, Marco Gonzalez, Chan b'i, Petén Itz, and Cancu.

At Actuncan, the concentration is between 0.016 and 17.16 parts per million. The Toxic Effect Threshold is defined as 1 part per million.

Mercury is used by a lot of heavy users.

This pollution was caused by mercury. According to the authors, mercury has been found in sealed vessels at several Maya sites, including the former megacity Teotihucan in Central Mexico. There are objects painted with mercury in the Maya region.

According to the authors, the ancient Maya used paints and powders with mercury in them. The mercury could have gotten into the soil and water from many places.

The Maya had objects that contained ch'ulel, or soul- force, which resided in blood. The brilliant red color of cinnabar was an important and sacred substance, but it was also deadly and its legacy is still present in soils around ancient Maya sites.

As mercury is rare in the limestone that underlies much of the Maya region, they theorize that it could have come from deposits in the north and south.

There are health dangers and the Mayacene.

The ancient Maya were at risk of having a health hazard due to the effects of chronic mercury poisoning. The last Maya ruler of Tikal, Dark Sun, is depicted in frescoes as pathologically obese. Chronic mercury poisoning can cause obese people to become obese.

There is more research that needs to be done to determine if mercury exposure played a role in larger sociocultural change and trends in the Maya world.

The ancient Maya, who barely used metals, caused mercury concentrations to be greatly elevated in their environment according to the co-author. This result supports the idea that we live in the 'Anthropocene' and that there was a different time period. Humans have been affected by metal contamination through history.

More information: Environmental legacy of pre-Columbian Maya mercury, Frontiers in Environmental Science (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2022.986119