Chapter

Mercury and Public Health: An Assessment of Human Exposure

Wendy Mckelvey and Emily Oken

in Mercury in the Environment

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780520271630
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520951396 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520271630.003.0013
Mercury and Public Health: An Assessment of Human Exposure

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Humans may be exposed to mercury as an organic or inorganic compound or in its elemental state. Methylmercury is arguably the most important form of exposure worldwide because of its pervasiveness in fish and its neurotoxicity. Mercury exposure may also occur from dental amalgams, some vaccines, mercury-containing skin care and “traditional medicine” products, certain occupations, and spills. Biomonitoring studies have measured the highest mercury levels in populations that consume fish frequently. Fish consumption advisories have been developed to guide high-risk groups—such as pregnant women and young children—in selecting fish with the lowest levels of mercury. The message can be challenging to convey, however, since fish also contain nutrients that can be beneficial to health.

Keywords: mercury; methylmercury; public health; fish; amalgams; vaccines; advisories; biomonitoring

Chapter.  17682 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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