Mercury accumulation in adolescents scalp hair and fish consumption: a case study comparing populations having natural or anthropogenic sources
Department of Biology & CESAM, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
The consumption of fish is usually considered the main route of contamination of mercury in humans. In a climate change scenario implying ocean acidification, mercury methylation is expected to increase leading to bioaccumulation increments in the food chain, affecting mainly coastal populations.
In this study, mercury accumulation and fish consumption was evaluated considering mercury concentrations in human scalp hair in relation to fish consumption habits in adolescents (16 to 21 years old) from two coastal areas: Angra do Heroísmo and Aveiro (respectively a city in the Azores islands, and a mainland portuguese coastal city), presenting similar mercury levels in the surrounding coastal environments (0.1-0.3 μg g-1 in surface fine sediments) in spite of the mercury source (being from natural causes in the first site and anthropogenic in the second).
Total mercury (THg) determination was performed by atomic absorption spectrometry with the Advanced Mercury Analyzer (AMA-254, LECO), and the analytical quality of the procedure was checked using reference materials TORT-2.The surveyed young populations showed similar fish consumption habits (0 to 6 meals in a week schedule) and revealed mercury concentrations in scalp hair ranging from 0.79 to 1.82μg g-1. In spite of being young population consumers, results show a pattern of increased mercury concentration with increasing fish consumption habits.
Key words: adolescent fish consumers / Azores / human scalp hair / mercury / mercury accumulation
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2014
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