Human exposure to mercury due to goldmining in the Tapajos River basin, Amazon, Brazil: Speciation of mercury in human hair, blood and urine
- Cite this article as:
- Akagi, H., Malm, O., Branches, F.J.P. et al. Water Air Soil Pollut (1995) 80: 85. doi:10.1007/BF01189656
To obtain the basic information on human exposure to mercury (Hg) due to gold mining activities in Amazon, total mercury (T-Hg) and methylmercury (MeI Ig) were determined for human hair, blood and/or urine samples collected from populations living in gold mining area and fishing villages upstream of the Tapajos River basin. Abnormally high levels of T-Hg were observed in hair and blood from all fishing villages investigated and more than 90% of T-Hg was in the form of MeHg in both samples, whereas in goldrnining area the value were much lower and the %MeHg values varied widely (20–100%) with individuals even in blood samples. Urine from gold shop workers contained Hg mostly in inorganic form at 165μg/g creatinine on the average, with the range of 20 to 450μg/g creatinine. A good correlation between Hg in hair and blood was found in fishing villages and the ratios of hair Hg to blood Hg were very close to 250, generally established for MeHg. T-Hg and inorganic Hg levels in urine from gold shop workers were also significantly correlated with inorganic Hg in blood.