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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2001 Mar 2;50(8):140-3.

Blood and hair mercury levels in young children and women of childbearing age--United States, 1999.

Abstract

Mercury (Hg), a heavy metal, is widespread and persistent in the environment. Exposure to hazardous Hg levels can cause permanent neurologic and kidney impairment. Elemental or inorganic Hg released into the air or water becomes methylated in the environment where it accumulates in animal tissues and increases in concentration through the food chain. The U.S. population primarily is exposed to methylmercury by eating fish. Methylmercury exposures to women of childbearing age are of great concern because a fetus is highly susceptible to adverse effects. This report presents preliminary estimates of blood and hair Hg levels from the 1999 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1999) and compares them with a recent toxicologic review by the National Research Council (NRC). The findings suggest that Hg levels in young children and women of childbearing age generally are below those considered hazardous. These preliminary estimates show that approximately 10% of women have Hg levels within one tenth of potentially hazardous levels indicating a narrow margin of safety for some women and supporting efforts to reduce methylmercury exposure.

PMID:
11393484
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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