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Environ Res. 2006 Jun;101(2):205-12. Epub 2005 Oct 12.

Body burdens of mercury in lower Hudson River area anglers.

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  • 1Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Abstract

The Hudson River has been a federally designated Superfund site for over 20 years. Discharges of industrial waste and of treated and untreated sewage and atmospheric deposition have introduced mercury and other persistent pollutants to the Hudson River ecosystem. Despite New York and New Jersey health advisories, many local anglers and their family members continue to consume fish caught from the river. To evaluate associations between body burden of mercury and local fish consumption, we conducted a cross-sectional study of 191 anglers recruited from piers and fishing clubs. Participants were administered a questionnaire to obtain information on local fish consumption, and 65% (124 individuals) provided a blood sample used to determine mercury levels. Mercury levels ranged from below the limit of detection (0.75 ng/mL) to 24.0 ng/mL. Participants who reported eating locally caught fish had significantly higher levels of mercury (mean (M)=2.4 ng/mL, standard error (SE)=1.2) than anglers who never ate locally caught fish (M=1.3 ng/mL, SE=1.1). A positive dose-response pattern was also observed, where participants who reported eating locally caught fish more than once a week had higher mercury levels (M=2.6 ng/mL, SE=1.1) than anglers eating fish less frequently (M=2.0 ng/mL, SE=1.2) or never at all (M=1.3 ng/mL, SE=1.1). These findings indicate that consumption of fish caught from the lower Hudson River area is a route of human exposure to mercury for the angling community.

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