While mining for gold, the process that is of most concern is the gold-mercury amalgam process. An amalgam is the reaction that mercury has with other metals, and most notably gold reacts to mercury very nicely. The video below shows the process of the gold mining in Nicaragua, though south of the border, in terms of air and ocean currents is not that far from where we live:
There is some good news to all of this, and that is the world leaders have noticed how bad mercury is for our health and are in the works to regulate industries such as this. The hardest part though, is just how effective it will be as these small mining operations are what keep these people employed and as they would see it, feed their children. Hopefully, with any luck we will see a change in the coming years on a global scale that helps to reduce the amount of emissions of mercury in gold mining.