Document Detail

Hair methylmercury levels of mummies of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19195649     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Ancient human hair specimens can shed light on the extent of pre-historic exposures to methylmercury and provide valuable comparison data with current-day exposures, particularly for Indigenous Peoples who continue to rely upon local traditional food resources. Human hair from ancient Aleutian Island Native remains were tested for total and methylmercury (Hg, MeHg) and were radiocarbon dated. The remains were approximately 500 years old (1450 A.D.). For four adults, the mean and median total hair mercury concentration was 5.8 ppm (SD=0.9). In contrast, MeHg concentrations were lower with a mean of 1.2 ppm (SD=1.8) and a median of 0.54 ppm (0.12-3.86). For the five infants, the mean and median MeHg level was 1.2 ppm (SD=1.8) and 0.20 ppm (0.007-4.61), respectively. Segmental analyses showed variations in MeHg concentrations in 1-cm segments, consistent with fluctuations in naturally occurring exposure to mercury through dietary sources. The levels are comparable to or lower than those found in fish and marine mammal-eating populations today who rely far less on subsistence food than pre-historic humans. The findings are, therefore, compatible with increased anthropogenic release of trace metals during the past several centuries.
G M Egeland; Rafael Ponce; Nicolas S Bloom; Rick Knecht; Stephen Loring; John P Middaugh
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2009-02-04
Journal Detail:
Title:  Environmental research     Volume:  109     ISSN:  1096-0953     ISO Abbreviation:  Environ. Res.     Publication Date:  2009 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-03-16     Completed Date:  2009-03-27     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0147621     Medline TA:  Environ Res     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  281-6     Citation Subset:  IM    
Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment, McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Environmental Exposure / analysis*
Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
Hair / chemistry*
Methylmercury Compounds / analysis*
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Environmental Pollutants; 0/Methylmercury Compounds

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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