Mercury Human Exposure in Populations Living Around Lake Tana (Ethiopia).

Research paper by G G Habiba, G G Abebe, Andrea G AG Bravo, D D Ermias, Ǻ Ǻ Staffan, K K Bishop

Indexed on: 10 Jun '16Published on: 10 Jun '16Published in: Biological Trace Element Research


A survey carried out in Lake Tana in 2015 found that Hg levels in some fish species exceeded internationally accepted safe levels for fish consumption. The current study assesses human exposure to Hg through fish consumption around the Lake Tana. Of particular interest was that a dietary intake of fishes is currently a health risk for Bihar Dar residents and anglers. Hair samples were collected from three different groups: anglers, college students and teachers, and daily laborers. A questionary includes gender, age, weight, activity. Frequency of fish consumption and origin of the eaten fish were completed by each participant. Mercury concentrations in hair were significantly higher (P value <0.05) for anglers (mean ± standard deviation 0.120 ± 0.199 μg/g) than college students (mean ± standard deviation 0.018 ± 0.039 μg/g) or daily workers (mean ± standard deviation 16 ± 9.5 ng/g). Anglers consumed fish more often than daily workers and college group. Moreover, there was also a strong correlation (P value <0.05) between the logarithms of total mercury and age associated with mercury concentration in scalp hair. Mercury concentrations in the hair of men were on average twice the value of the women. Also, users of skin lightening soap on a daily basis had 2.5 times greater mercury in scalp hair than non-users. Despite the different sources of mercury exposure mentioned above, the mercury concentrations of the scalp hair of participants of this study were below levels deemed to pose a threat to health.