Mercury contamination in fish and human hair from Hainan Island, South China Sea: Implication for human exposure.

Research paper by Jin-Ling JL Liu, Xiang-Rong XR Xu, Shen S Yu, Hefa H Cheng, Jia-Xi JX Peng, Yi-Guo YG Hong, Xin-Bin XB Feng

Indexed on: 30 Sep '14Published on: 30 Sep '14Published in: Environmental Research


Hair has long been recognized as a good biomarker for human exposure to Hg. The mercury concentrations in 14 species of marine fish and hair samples from 177 coastal residents in Hainan, South China Sea were investigated to assess the status of mercury exposure associated with marine fish consumption. Concentrations of total Hg (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) in the fish muscles were 0.094 ± 0.008 and 0.066 ± 0.006 μg/gww, respectively, which were far below the limit considered safe for consumption (0.5 μg/g). The average THg concentrations in hair of adults (1.02 ± 0.92 μg/g) were lower than the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) level of 2.2 μg/g. However, 23.7% of children had a hair THg level exceeding the RfD level of 1μg/g, indicating a great risk of Hg exposure to children via fish consumption. The concentration of THg in hair was significantly correlated with fish consumption but not with gender-specific fish intake. With higher fish consumption frequency, the fishermen had significantly elevated hair Hg levels compared to the students and the other general public, who had similar hair THg levels but different fish consumption patterns, indicating the existence of other sources of Hg exposure to the residents of Hainan Island.