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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 104, Issue 3, pp e246–e251 | Cite as

Blood Total Mercury Concentrations in the Canadian Population: Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007–2009

  • Ellen LyeEmail author
  • Melissa Legrand
  • Janine Clarke
  • Adam Probert
Quantitative Research
  • 1 Downloads

Abstract

Objectives

We present total mercury (THg) in blood of Canadians 6–79 years of age from the first to-date nationally-representative survey, the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). This analysis is particularly relevant in the context of recent changes to Health Canada’s blood Hg guidance values.

Methods

We used data from cycle 1 (2007–2009) of the CHMS, in particular focussing on 5,319 respondents aged 6–79 years for whom blood THg data were available. We calculated descriptive statistics of blood Hg levels and analyzed the associations between blood THg levels and relevant variables. We also compared blood THg levels to existing Health Canada blood Hg guidance values.

Results

The geometric mean blood THg level of the Canadian population was 0.69 μg/L (95% CI 0.56–0.86 μg/L). The majority (97.8%) of Canadian women aged 16–49 years, including pregnant women, had blood Hg values below the provisional HC blood guidance value of 8 μg/L. Mean blood THg levels were significantly higher in the “other or mixed” (1.14 μg/L, p=0.0003) and Asian (1.41 μg/L, p=0.0476) groups compared to those who selfidentified as solely Caucasian (0.62 μg/L). There was however no significant difference between participants self-identified as Aboriginal Canadians versus Caucasians (0.56 μg/L vs 0.62 μg/L, p=0.2902).

Fish and shellfish consumption significantly influenced blood Hg levels, as did alcohol consumption and the presence of dental amalgams.

Conclusion

This paper presents the first description of blood THg levels in the general Canadian population. These findings will serve as a national baseline for monitoring future changes should they arise.

Key Words

Mercury methylmercury blood biomonitoring Canada Canadian Health Measures Survey 

Résumé

Objectifs

Nous présentons les concentrations en mercure total (HgT) dans le sang des Canadiens de 6 à 79 ans tirées de la première enquête représentative nationale à ce jour: l’Enquête canadienne sur les mesures de la santé (ECMS). Notre analyse est particulièrement pertinente dans le contexte des modifications récentes aux valeurs de référence de Santé Canada pour le Hg sanguin.

Méthode

Nos données proviennent du cycle 1 (2007–2009) de l’ECMS, plus précisément des 5 319 répondants de 6 à 79 ans pour lesquels il existe des données sur le mercure total dans le sang. Nous avons fait des calculs de statistique descriptive pour les concentrations en Hg sanguin et analysé les associations entre les concentrations en HgT dans le sang et les variables pertinentes. Nous avons aussi comparé les concentrations en HgT dans le sang aux valeurs de référence existantes de Santé Canada pour le Hg sanguin.

Résultats

La moyenne géométrique des concentrations en HgT dans le sang de la population canadienne est de 0,69 μg/L (IC de 95 %: 0,56–0,86 μg/L). La majorité (97,8 %) des Canadiennes de 16 à 49 ans, y compris les femmes enceintes, ont des valeurs de Hg sanguin inférieures à la valeur de référence provisoire de Santé Canada (8 μg/L). Les concentrations moyennes en HgT dans le sang sont sensiblement plus élevées dans les populations « autres ou mixtes » (1,14 μg/L, p=0,0003) et asiatiques (1,41 μg/L, p=0,0476) que dans la population s’identifiant comme blanche (0,62 μg/L). Il n’y a toutefois aucun écart significatif entre les participants s’identifiant comme des Canadiens autochtones ou blancs (0,56 μg/L contre 0,62 μg/L, p=0,2902).

La consommation de poissons, crustacés et coquillages influence de façon significative les concentrations en Hg sanguin, tout comme la consommation d’alcool et la présence d’amalgames dentaires.

Conclusion

Cet article présente la première description des concentrations en HgT dans le sang de la population canadienne dans son ensemble. Nos constatations serviront de base de référence nationale pour la surveillance des changements éventuels.

Mots Clés

mercure méthylmercure sang biosurveillance Canada Enquête canadienne sur les mesures de la santé 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Lye
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melissa Legrand
    • 1
  • Janine Clarke
    • 2
  • Adam Probert
    • 1
  1. 1.Chemicals Surveillance BureauHealth CanadaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Health Statistics DivisionStatistics CanadaOttawaCanada

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