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Environ Pollut. 2013 Sep;180:291-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.05.037. Epub 2013 Jun 22.

Prenatal methylmercury exposure through maternal rice ingestion: insights from a feasibility pilot in Guizhou Province, China.

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  • 1University of South Carolina, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, The Arnold School of Public Health, 921 Assembly Street, Room 401, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.


Maternal hair and blood were investigated as biomarkers for prenatal methylmercury (MeHg) exposure among seventeen mothers recruited at parturition in Wanshan, Guizhou Province, China, where rice ingestion was the primary MeHg exposure pathway and atmospheric mercury (Hg) levels were elevated. For all three trimesters (n = 51), hair total Hg (THg) and MeHg concentrations ranged from 0.27 to 4.9 μg/g (median: 0.96 μg/g) and 0.077 to 2.3 μg/g (median: 0.43 μg/g), respectively, while blood THg levels ranged from 1.7 to 11 μg/L (median: 3.0 μg/L, n = 17). Despite adequate hair washing procedures, median %MeHg (of THg) was 37% (range: 14-89%, n = 51), indicating exogenous inorganic Hg(II) contamination or incorporation of elemental Hg (Hg(o)) into the hair shaft were important. Rice MeHg levels (n = 17) were highly correlated with blood THg (r(2) = 0.66) compared to hair MeHg (r(2) = 0.31) (when variables were log10-transformed), suggesting blood THg was a more preferable biomarker for prenatal MeHg exposure within this population.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Methylmercury; Prenatal exposure; Reference dose; Rice ingestion

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