Mercurial exposure of residents of Santarém and Oriximiná cities (Pará, Brazil) through fish consumption
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A survey of the mercurial exposure of residents of Santarém and Oriximiná showed a differential mercurial impregnation between men and women. At the level of both cities, the mean hair mercury concentrations were 1.5 ± 0.5 (90th and 95th percentiles: 2.8 and 4.3) and 2.52 ± 0.09 μg g Hg/g (90th and 95th percentiles: 4.7 and 8.1) for women and men, respectively. The mercurial contamination appeared significantly closely linked to the daily amount of consumed fish. Carnivore species pescada branca (Plagioscion squamosissimus) and apapá (Pellona castelnaeana) and non-carnivore species pacú (Mylossoma duriventre) and aracú (Schizodon fasciatus) were consumed by 22, 19, 55 and 25 % of people, respectively, and the mean mercury concentrations within fish flesh were 1.44 ± 0.11, 1.66 ± 0.19, 0.48 ± 0.09 and 0.49 ± 0.06 μg/g dry weight, respectively. Men aged above 35 were significantly more contaminated than those below. The mean hair concentrations of men were 5.20 ± 1.25 and 1.50 ± 0.22 μg/g, for those aged above 35 and below, respectively. The probability for women of childbearing age from both cities to present a hair mercury concentration above 1 μg Hg/g (corresponding to the US Environmental Protection Agency reference dose) was equal to 0.30 (95 % confidence interval of 0.24–0.36). The probability of hair mercury concentration to be above the lowest observable adverse effect level (LOAEL) (0.3 μg Hg/g) was equal to 0.79 (95 % confidence interval: 0.73–0.86).
KeywordsMethylmercury Fish consumption Santarém Oriximiná Pregnancy Hair
We thank Carina Leal for her technical support in the distribution and collection of questionnaires from voluntaries. We thank Pierre Soucasse for his technical involvement in the quantification of Hg in hair. We thank Zuleica C. Castilhos for having performed quantification of Hg in fish (Laboratório de Especiação de Mercúrio Ambiental—Centro de Tecnologia Mineral—CETEM, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
Compliance with ethical standards
Sources of funding
This study was funded by the French National Institute for Universe Sciences (INSU), CNRS, through its program EC2CO, the Brazilian federal program CAPES/CSF-PVE’s (processo 88881.030.467/2013-01), the University of West of Para (UFOPA), and the FAPESPA (the Amazon Research Foundation that promotes science and technology in the state of Pará).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Research involving human participants and animals
Fish used in the present study have been purchased on a local fish market, and fishermen had already killed them. A total of 93 human participants were recruited for the study. A questionnaire related to fish consumption and hair were collected from these voluntary participants.
All willing participants were fully informed about the purposes and limitations of the study, answered a questionnaire without name identification and provided a written consent in Portuguese. All willing participants accepted to give hair.
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