Aerogel: Espinar, Peru

Week #16: Heavy Metal Ions (Real-Life Stories)

Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez
4 min readNov 29, 2022

Preface ✨

Hello everyone!

My intentions for writing these articles are:

  • Explain technical information about aerogels in simple terms (to the public)
  • Store information and habits for my future self and others (in <7 minutes)

Coolio? Sweet. Enjoy the series :-)

Gather Around, It’s Storytime 📖

Let’s give the basics. Here is a Google Earth Screenshot of Espinar, Peru.

The following stories/notes came from reach outs via CDC, hidden podcast episodes, & secondary connections. Muchas gracias por sus historias. 🙏

Welcome to their world.

One in three people in Peru consumes & is at risk of heavy metal ions in potable water.

The population of Peru is approximately 33 million…11 million people drink heavy metal ions.

In 8 Regions, government officials have identified 48 districts where the water sources exceed the Ambient Quality Standards For Lead, Arsenic, & Cadmium.

Most of the heavy metals come from mining operations that have been in the country for decades. In Espinar, Peru, a petroleum spill in 2014 affected their primary sources of water. The families have no other choice but to drink the contaminated water… and they know what it does to their loved ones.

The wind brings the tailings/particles and contaminates the rivers & remaining crops from their agriculture.

Some families live 100–300 meters from the mining waste (like the photo above). They are more likely to inhale the heavy metal ions floating around in the air.

Indigenous communities in Peru have lacked attention from their government to provide them with clean sources of water. This has led to (primarily) lead intake in their blood above the WHO standards (>10μg/dL)

Some families reported blood tests with the lead being 12.37 μg/dL, 14.29 μg/dL, 11.93 μg/dL, 12.71 μg/dL, etc.

The other primary heavy metal ion present in the water is arsenic.

The following is translated from a podcast interview sent by a secondary connection. Correct me if I made translation mistakes.

“They have brought us general practitioners, but not specialists to attend to our needs, which are heavy metals. People do not report or go to the hospital for fear of being identified and arrested. Why? Protests.

Almost two years later they are still denouncing the situation and every protest is met with repression and violence by the police.

Water is also part of our economic life. It is difficult for us to sell and consume livestock products such as cheese and any type of meat.

What is opposed is that the water is contaminated & the mining companies do nothing to stop it & let the people get sick & die… we do not have any other choice but to drink it…we are forgotten by the government.”

Esmeralda Larota | Espinar, Perú

All values were converted from Peruvian Soles (PER) to US Dollars (USD). Notes came from secondary connections. All calculations are based on a family of four. Let me know if I made a mistake in the conversion.

65% of all Peruvians live under 6 USD (23.05 PER) per day. Most of them are farmers or work in the Peruvian mines.

65% of Peruvians = 21.45 million people

For a week’s worth of fish, it costs 44.24 USD (170 PER) per week.

Fish back in 2014 cost 0.52 USD (2 PER) per kilo.

Fish in 2021 cost 2.08 - 2.60 USD (8 - 10 PER) per kilo.

The average pay for a mine worker in Espinar, Peru (also in Marañón & Cuninico) is 5.20 USD/day (20 PER).

The spike in fish prices was due to the 2014 oil spill affecting marine life & marine food. Scarcity leads to demand. Demand increases the price. Families used to bring home 5 kilos from the marketplace before, but now the mothers say, “we’re lucky if our husband brings home even one kilo”.

The pandemic also brought restrictions from leaving the home to buy food & tools of primary necessity. This forced the families to plan & create rations of expenditures on food per week.

Why Did We Write About This? 💭

We wrote about these topics because we genuinely care about the people. I faced a similar situation with heavy metal ions. But that is not the entire reason…but it helps with identifying pain points.

A necessity is easy to sell because your life depends on it.

This is why we take deep consideration of what potential customers think. One mistake costs a life.

Understanding people’s pain points allow you to build relationships and build the bridge of trust: the world’s most powerful currency.

Espinar, Peru: That Is A Wrap. ✔️

Connect →🔗



© 2023 by Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez. All Rights Reserved.