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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2009 Nov;212(6):588-98. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2009.04.004. Epub 2009 May 29.

Total blood mercury concentrations in the U.S. population: 1999-2006.

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Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop F-18, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.


We describe the distribution and demographic characteristics of total blood Hg levels in the U.S. general population among persons ages 1 year and older who participated in the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We also describe trends in the total blood Hg of children ages 1-5 (n=3456) and females ages 16-49 during 1999-2006 (n=7245). In the combined 2003-2006 survey periods, the geometric means for non-Hispanic blacks, 0.853microg/L (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.766-0.950microg/L), and non-Hispanic whites, 0.833microg/L (95% CI, 0.752-0.922microg/L), were higher than the geometric mean for Mexican Americans, 0.580microg/L (95% CI, 0.522-0.645microg/L). Also in 2003-2006, regression analysis of log total blood Hg with age, race/ethnicity and gender showed that total blood Hg levels in the population exhibited a quadratic increase with age (p<0.0001), peaking at ages 50-59 in non-Hispanic blacks and whites, at ages 40-49 in Mexican Americans, and then declining at older ages. Over the four survey periods (1999-2006), regression analysis showed that total blood Hg levels increased slightly for non-Hispanic white children and decreased slightly for non-Hispanic black and Mexican American children. Over the same four survey periods, female children had slightly higher total blood Hg levels than males (0.356 vs. 0.313microg/L, p=0.0050) and total blood Hg levels in non-Hispanic black women aged 16-49 years were significantly higher than in non-Hispanic white women (1.081 vs. 0.850microg/L, p<0.0001) and in Mexican American women (1.081 vs. 0.70microg/L, p<0.0001).

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