Both the UN and Doctors without Borders are expressing concern that a free-for-all gold rush in northern Nigeria will kill more people if nothing is done.
At least 400 children have already died and more are serously ill as the mining is leaving large quantities of lead in the air, soil, and water.
On top of that cholera has now broken out, and could ravage an already weakened population. More than 700 people are being treated in makeshift hospitals.
“More deaths will happen from cholera in the next month or so if action is not taken. The contribution of lead toxicity in this community will be much more significant in the long term if these problems are not addressed,” said Dr. Nathalie Thurtle.
Impoverished local farmers have been digging up the gold-bearing ore with their hands and recent heavy rains have helped the lead leech into a wide surrounding area, making the pollution hard to contain. However doctors are struggling to convince locals the source of their new-found wealth is to blame.