More U.S. women today than ever tested positive for inorganic mercury and the average concentration of mercury in women has also increased, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over the period 1999-2006.
Mercury is a neurotoxin with organic mercury, particularly methylmercury being more toxic than inorganic mercury.
Adults, children and developing fetuses are at risk from ingestion or exposure to mercury. Mothers with high levels of mercury may give birth to infants with severe disabilities. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxicity.
Organic mercury like methylmercury mostly comes from fish tainted with the toxic chemical and other sources like vaccines (containing Thimerosal also called Thiomersal) . Inorganic mercury mostly comes from coal-burning power plants, waste incinerators, cement killns and other sources like dental filings.
Due to the biotransformations of mercury forms (both elemental and organic) within the human body, blood inorganic mercury (i-Hg) may be the most fitting bioindicator of chronic
mercury exposure, organ deposition, and toxic effect.The new study
For the study, Dan Laks from Mental Retardation Research Center, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA examined data from 6,174 women aged 18 to 49 participating in the NHANES study from 1999 to 2006.
Laks found not only that the rate of mercury detection increased from 2 percent in 1999-2000 to 30 percent in 2005 to 2006, but also that the average level of inorganic mercury in the same population rose from 0.33 to 0.39 µ/L.
Furthermore, the study published recently on-line in the Journal BioMetals
revealed significant associations of both I-Hg detection and mean concentration with biomarkers for the main targets of mercury deposition and effect: the liver, immune system, and pituitary. These results provide compelling evidence that I-Hg deposition within the human body is a cumulative process, increasing with age and in the population over time, since 1999, as a result of chronic mercury exposure. The new study
Dan R. Laks, Assessment of chronic mercury exposure within the U.S. population, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2006
, BioMetals, ahead of print, 2009. doi: 10.1007/s10534-009-9261-0 Related studies:
Kathryn R. Mahaffey, Robert P. Clickner, Rebecca A. Jeffries, Adult Women's Blood Mercury Concentrations Vary Regionally in the United States: Association with Patterns of Fish Consumption (NHANES 1999-2004)
, Environ. Health Perspect., 117/1 (2009) 47-53. doi:10.1289/ehp.11674
Esben Budtz-Jorgensen, Philippe Grandjean, Poul J. Jorgensen, Pál Weihe, Niels Keiding, Association between mercury concentrations in blood and hair in methylmercury-exposed subjects at different ages
, Environ. Res. (U.S.A), 95 (2004) 385-393. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2003.11.001
Kathryn R. Mahaffey, Robert P. Clickner, Catherine C. Bodurow, Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary Mercury Intake: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 and 2000
, Environ. Health Perspect., 112/5 (2004) 562-570. doi:10.1289/ehp.6587 Marie E. Vahter
, N.K. Mottet, L. Friberg, L. Birger, D.D. Shen, T. Burbacher, Speciation of mercury in the primate blood and brain following long-term exposure to methylmercury, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol., 124/2 (1994) 221-229. doi:10.1006/taap.1994.1026 EVISA Resources EVISA Link Database: Environmental cycling of methylmercury EVISA Link Database: Environmental cycling of inorganic mercury EVISA Link Database: Environmental pollution of methylmercury EVISA Link Database: Environmental pollution of inorganic mercury EVISA Link Database: Toxicity of mercury EVISA's Journal database: BioMetals
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last time modified: November 3, 2009