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Publication Date Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Atieno is one of more than 1,000 women across 25 countries including Kenya, Myanmar and Indonesia, whose hair samples were tested for mercury by IPEN, a Stockholm-based network of charities focusing on health and environment.

IPEN found that more than 40 percent of those tested, including Atieno, had mercury levels greater than 1 part per million – exceeding the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s safe exposure level.

High mercury levels can damage the nervous, digestive and immune systems and poison the lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes, says the World Health Organization. Pregnant women also risk giving birth to babies with congenital diseases.

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