Mercury in Human Ecology
Mercury in a tropical human ecosystem with traditional ways of living.
In an ecosystem in the Papua lowlands, mercury, mostly in the form of methylmercury, is found in fishes and reptiles at elevated levels. Mercury levels are correlated with the stable isotope ratio of nitrogen (15N/14N) in animal food which indicates a biomagnification of mercury accumulation through the food chain. In animal foods, mercury to selenium ratio is getting close to unity on the molar basis with increasing mercury levels. Dietary mercury intake and hair mercury levels in the fish-eating sector are comparable with those in developed countries. Balance between Se and Hg in the dietary intake is inclined to relative excess of Se to Hg.
Mercury in an urbanized ecosystem (Tokyo).
In an urbanized ecosystem in an industrialized country, the major source of mercury is via fish consumption. In organs obtained from forensic autopsy cases in Tokyo, methylmercury levels are uniform through all the organs (30 to 50 ng/g on average) except the liver (113 ng/g), but inorganic mercury levels are high in the liver and kidney (266 to 456 ng/g) and low in the brain, heart and spleen (4 to 9 ng/g). Selenium levels are significantly correlated with mercury levels in some organs, particularly in the kidney, where% inorganic to total mercury is as high as 85%.
From these results and additionally the results obtained on harbor seals caught in the Okhotsk sea, the role of selenium in adapting environmental mercury will be hypothetically discussed.
KeywordsMercury Cadmium Selenium Vanadium Cane
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