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Environ Res. 2017 Jan;152:419-433. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.06.042. Epub 2016 Jul 18.

Current progress on understanding the impact of mercury on human health.

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Ewha Womans University, College of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, South Korea.
Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Canada.
University Hospital Munich, Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health, Germany; University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology (UMIT), Department of Public Health, Health Services Research and Health Technology Assessment, Austria.
Department of Nutrition, University of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil.
Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health, Ulster University, United Kingdom.
Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Japan.
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Canada. Electronic address:


Mercury pollution and its impacts on human health is of global concern. The authors of this paper were members of the Plenary Panel on Human Health in the 12th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant held in Korea in June 2015. The Panel was asked by the conference organizers to address two questions: what is the current understanding of the impacts of mercury exposure on human health and what information is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention in lowering exposure and preventing adverse effects. The authors conducted a critical review of the literature published since January 2012 and discussed the current state-of-knowledge in the following areas: environmental exposure and/or risk assessment; kinetics and biomonitoring; effects on children development; effects on adult general populations; effects on artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM); effects on dental workers; risk of ethylmercury in thimerosal-containing vaccines; interactions with nutrients; genetic determinants and; risk communication and management. Knowledge gaps in each area were identified and recommendations for future research were made. The Panel concluded that more knowledge synthesis efforts are needed to translate the research results into management tools for health professionals and policy makers.


Advisory; Critical review; Environmental exposure; Environmental pollutants; Health; Humans; Mercury; Methylmercury; Toxicity

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