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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2019 Jun 12. doi: 10.1002/etc.4513. [Epub ahead of print]

Tuna consumption, mercury exposure, and knowledge about mercury exposure risk from tuna consumption in university students.

Author information

1
Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Department, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America.
2
Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, California, United States of America.
3
Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America.

Abstract

We examined the relationship between tuna consumption, hair mercury levels, and knowledge of mercury exposure risk from tuna consumption in university students that were offered tuna daily at university-run dining halls. Hair total mercury levels in tuna consumers were higher than non-tuna consumers (average = 0.466 µg/g ± 0.328 SD, n = 20 versus 0.110 µg/g ± 0.105 SD, n = 33 respectively) (p < 0.0001, Mann-Whitney U), with tuna eaters exhibiting a positive relationship between self-reported tuna consumption at dining halls and hair mercury levels (R2 = 0.868, p < 0.0001, n = 17, linear regression). For all tuna eaters surveyed, more than half (54%) self-reported eating ≥ 3 tuna meals per week, potentially exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's reference dose for methylmercury of 0.1 µg/kg body weight/day. Seven percent of study participants reported they consumed > 20 tuna meals per week, which was related to hair mercury levels > 1 µg/g - a level of concern. Study participants had an overall lack of knowledge and confidence in their knowledge about mercury exposure risk from tuna consumption with > 99% of participants reporting low knowledge and low confidence in survey answers. Our study highlights the importance of education about the risks of tuna consumption, particularly in institutional settings where individuals have unlimited access to tuna products. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

knowledge; mercury; methylmercury; survey; tuna

PMID:
31189023
DOI:
10.1002/etc.4513

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