Mercury Exposure in Vulnerable Populations: Guidelines for Fish Consumption

John Dellinger, Matthew Dellinger and Jennifer S. Yauck

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:
Mercury Exposure in Vulnerable Populations: Guidelines for Fish Consumption

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Mercury exposures in vulnerable populations frequently result from consuming contaminated fish. Fish also contain many valuable nutrients. Culturally appropriate risk communication must account for the nutritional benefits and contaminant risks of fish, especially in vulnerable populations with long historical dependence upon fisheries. Traditional ecological knowledge and selenium in foods may provide some protection against methylmercury in fish. The economic, social, and family values of fishing activities influence the acceptance of fish consumption advisories and are incorporated using community-based participatory research. Culturally relevant advisories encourage wise choices for dietary fish and are illustrated with examples from Native American and Hmong communities. Anthropogenic emissions are nearly as great as the historical peaks from volcanic activity, and dietary fish will continue to be threatened.

Keywords: risk communication; mercury; methylmercury; fish consumption advisories; traditional ecological knowledge; selenium; vulnerable populations; community-based participatory research; benefits and risks; Native Americans; Hmong

Chapter.  9150 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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