Cyanide: gold mining’s devastating killer

Publication - August 30, 2006
Cyanide is highly toxic Cyanide is one of the most toxic chemical substances on Earth. Cyanide is toxic to most aquatic life and humans, even at low concentrations. Its use in gold mining is controversial. The extreme toxicity of cyanide arises from its readiness to react with other elements and hence interfere with normal biological processes. Cyanide gas is a biological weapon and was used in European Nazi extermination camps in World War II. Cyanide compounds do occur naturally in low doses in some foods, for example, in bitter almonds. Excesses or extracts of these have long been known to be toxic. (Moran, 2004)

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