Ancient Maya cities were dangerously contaminated with mercury

Exposure to mercury may have posed health hazard for ancient Maya.

FRONTIERS—The cities of the ancient Maya in Mesoamerica never fail to impress. But beneath the soil surface, an unexpected danger lurks there: mercury pollution. In a review article in Frontiers in Environmental Science, researchers conclude that this pollution isn’t modern: it’s due to the frequent use of mercury and mercury-containing products by the Maya of the Classic Period, between 250 and 1100 CE. This pollution is in places so heavy that even today, it pose a potential health hazard for unwary archeologists.

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