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Temporal Evolution of Exposure to Mercury in Riverside Communities in the Tapajós Basin, from 1994 to 2010


Our objective was to evaluate the temporal evolution of mercury exposure in two riverside communities, Barreiras and São Luiz do Tapajós, downstream of gold mining areas in the Tapajós basin, Brazilian Amazon. The quantification of mercury in hair sample was made by atomic absorption spectrophotometry in the period between 1994 and 2010. In São Luiz do Tapajós the mercury exposure varied, in log units, from the peak of 1.21 ± 0.03 μg/g in 1996 to 1.16 ± 0.07 μg/g in 2007. Mercury exposure in Barreiras varied, in log units, from 1.25 ± 0.04 μg/g in 1994 to 1 ± 0.03 μg/g in 2010, peaking in 1995 at 1.25 ± 0.06 μg/g. Total mercury concentration found in both communities had no statistical differences across the years (p > 0.05) and they were higher than non-mercury exposed communities in Brazil and in South America. We concluded that the mercury exposure in the Tapajós basin is more than regulatory levels or higher than the general population.

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This work was supported by JICA, CNPq-PRONEX/FAPESPA/UFPA/FADESP #268/2007, CNPq #620037/2008-3, CNPq #476744/2009-1, CNPq-PRONEX/FAPESPA #316799/2009, CAPES-PROCAD #0019/01, and PPSUS/CNPq/FAPESPA. We are thankful to the support provided by the Secretary for Healthy of Itaituba city. This research group is part of the network Rede Instituto Brasileiro de Neurociência (IBN Net) supported by FINEP.

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Correspondence to M. C. N. Pinheiro.

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Pinheiro, M.C.N., Farripas, S.S.M., Oikawa, T. et al. Temporal Evolution of Exposure to Mercury in Riverside Communities in the Tapajós Basin, from 1994 to 2010. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 89, 119–124 (2012).

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  • Mercury exposure
  • Tapajós basin
  • Amazon riverside communities
  • Environmental toxicology