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J Environ Manage. 2016 Dec 1;183:229-235. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.08.058. Epub 2016 Sep 2.

Economic implications of mercury exposure in the context of the global mercury treaty: Hair mercury levels and estimated lost economic productivity in selected developing countries.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental Medicine, University School of Medicine, New York, NY, 10016, USA; Department of Pediatrics, University School of Medicine, New York, NY, 10016, USA; Department of Population Health, University School of Medicine, New York, NY, 10016, USA; NYU Wagner School of Public Service, New York, NY, 10012, USA; NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, Department of Nutrition, Food & Public Health, New York, NY, 10013, USA. Electronic address: Leonardo.Trasande@nyumc.org.
2
IPEN, Första Långgatan 18, 413 28, Göteborg, Sweden. Electronic address: joe@ipen.org.
3
Biodiversity Research Institute, 276 Canco Road, Portland, ME, 04103, USA. Electronic address: david.evers@briloon.org.
4
Arnika Association, Chlumova 17, Prague 3, 130 00, Czech Republic. Electronic address: jindrich.petrlik@arnika.org.
5
Biodiversity Research Institute, 276 Canco Road, Portland, ME, 04103, USA. Electronic address: david.buck@briloon.org.
6
Arnika Association, Chlumova 17, Prague 3, 130 00, Czech Republic. Electronic address: jan.samanek@arnika.org.
7
IPEN, Första Långgatan 18, 413 28, Göteborg, Sweden. Electronic address: bjornbeeler@ipen.org.
8
Biodiversity Research Institute, 276 Canco Road, Portland, ME, 04103, USA. Electronic address: madeline.turnquist@briloon.org.
9
Biodiversity Research Institute, 276 Canco Road, Portland, ME, 04103, USA. Electronic address: kevin.regan@briloon.org.

Abstract

Several developing countries have limited or no information about exposures near anthropogenic mercury sources and no studies have quantified costs of mercury pollution or economic benefits to mercury pollution prevention in these countries. In this study, we present data on mercury concentrations in human hair from subpopulations in developing countries most likely to benefit from the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. These data are then used to estimate economic costs of mercury exposure in these communities. Hair samples were collected from sites located in 15 countries. We used a linear dose-response relationship that previously identified a 0.18 IQ point decrement per part per million (ppm) increase in hair mercury, and modeled a base case scenario assuming a reference level of 1 ppm, and a second scenario assuming no reference level. We then estimated the corresponding increases in intellectual disability and lost Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY). A total of 236 participants provided hair samples for analysis, with an estimated population at risk of mercury exposure near the 15 sites of 11,302,582. Average mercury levels were in the range of 0.48 ppm-4.60 ppm, and 61% of all participants had hair mercury concentrations greater than 1 ppm, the level that approximately corresponds to the USA EPA reference dose. An additional 1310 cases of intellectual disability attributable to mercury exposure were identified annually (4110 assuming no reference level), resulting in 16,501 lost DALYs (51,809 assuming no reference level). A total of $77.4 million in lost economic productivity was estimated assuming a 1 ppm reference level and $130 million if no reference level was used. We conclude that significant mercury exposures occur in developing and transition country communities near sources named in the Minamata Convention, and our estimates suggest that a large economic burden could be avoided by timely implementation of measures to prevent mercury exposures.

KEYWORDS:

DALYs; Developing countries; Global mercury treaty; Intellectual disability; Lost economic productivity; Mercury

PMID:
27594689
DOI:
10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.08.058
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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