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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.

Outside Japan

Outside Japan

It has come to light that the disease has spread to other parts of the world. At a conference in 1973 in Nashville, Tennessee, organic mercury pollution in Canada was reported. Eileen Smith, an experienced photographer of Minamata Disease in Japan made investigations on the situation in Ontario and was shocked to discover patients with symptoms, closely resembling Minamata victims. These Canadian victims are the Ojibways (a native Canadian tribe) living on two reservations. Grassy Narrows and White Dog. The factory which discharges mercury-laden waste into the river along these reservations is the Dryden Paper pulp mill. (The inorganic mercury is a byproduct of an electrolytic process used to produce pulp bleaching agents.)

Inorganic and metal mercuries enter the rivers and, especially, settle in the mud of the riverbeds. Concerning how much mercury poisoning has taken place, a level of over 10 ppm was discovered in some fish which correlates exactly with that found in Minamata. As in Minamata, cats in Grassy Narrows and White Dog have gone made with the disease. When hair of Objiways consuming this fish was checked for mercury, the highest content was 100 ppm, a level which coincide with the symptoms in Minamata.

Obviously, pollution is not a problem of small and highly industrialised Japan alone. However, it is in Japan where the people have long experience in the struggle with pollution. It is an experience from which the Objiways are trying to learn and which we ourselves will find useful to understand.

Photo of a person with mercury poisoning