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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santeria, Other Religions Can Employ Toxic Rituals

The new age practices of Santeria and Palo Mayombe (usually referred to simply as “Palo”), which trace their roots to West Africa, sometimes use rituals involving chemical mercury, whose properties could be potentially hazardous to people.

Dr. Arnold Wendroff of Brooklyn has spent the last 15 years trying to get health officials to do something about toxic practices in certain local Hispanic religions, including those practiced in West New York and Union City - like Santeria and Palo Mayombe.

The two religions, which were brought to local communities from Latin America, employ the toxic metal mercury in some of their rituals, which can lead to contamination of the surroundings.

In the late 1990s, Wendroff testified at the Department of Environmental Protection about his concerns, and they formed the Mercury Task Force out of the Department of Health, and performed a study of the immediate area entitled "Cultural Uses of Mercury in New Jersey." It was completed by December of 2002. Full Story

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