Document Detail

Mercury in breast milk - a health hazard for infants in gold mining areas?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18262466     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Breast-feeding can be a source of mercury exposure for infants. The main concern up to now is methyl-mercury exposure of women at child-bearing age. Certain fish species have high levels of methyl-mercury leading to consumer's advisory guidelines in regard of fish consumption to protect infants from mercury exposure passing through breast milk. Little is known about the transfer of inorganic mercury passing through breast milk to infants. Epidemiological studies showed negative health effects of inorganic mercury in gold mining areas. Small-scale gold miners use mercury to extract the gold from the ore. Environmental and health assessments of gold mining areas in Indonesia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe showed a high exposure with inorganic mercury in these gold mining areas, and a negative health impact of the exposure to the miners and the communities. This paper reports about the analysis and the results of 46 breast milk samples collected from mercury-exposed mothers. The median level of 1.87mug/l is fairly high compared to other results from literature. Some breast milk samples showed very high levels of mercury (up to 149mug/l). Fourteen of the 46 breast milk samples exceed 4mug/l which is considered to be a "high" level. US EPA recommends a "Reference Dose" of 0.3mug inorganic mercury/kg body weight/day [United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1997. Volume V: Health Effects of Mercury and Mercury Compounds. Study Report EPA-452/R-97-007: US EPA]. Twenty-two of the 46 children from these gold mining areas had a higher calculated total mercury uptake. The highest calculated daily mercury uptake of 127mug exceeds by far the recommended maximum uptake of inorganic mercury. Further systematic research of mercury in breast milk from small-scale gold mining areas is needed to increase the knowledge about the bio-transfer of mercury from mercury vapour-exposed mothers passing through breast milk to the breast-fed infant.
Stephan Bose-O'Reilly; Beate Lettmeier; Gabriele Roider; Uwe Siebert; Gustav Drasch
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2008-02-08
Journal Detail:
Title:  International journal of hygiene and environmental health     Volume:  211     ISSN:  1438-4639     ISO Abbreviation:  Int J Hyg Environ Health     Publication Date:  2008 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-09-08     Completed Date:  2009-02-10     Revised Date:  2009-04-10    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  100898843     Medline TA:  Int J Hyg Environ Health     Country:  Germany    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  615-23     Citation Subset:  IM    
Institute of Public Health, Medical Decision Making and Health Technology Assessment, UMIT - University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Eduard Wallnoefer-Zentrum I, A-6060 Hall i.T., Austria.
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MeSH Terms
Breast Feeding / adverse effects*
Cohort Studies
Environmental Monitoring
Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
Hair / chemistry
Mercury / adverse effects*,  blood,  urine
Milk, Human / chemistry*
Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Environmental Pollutants; 7439-97-6/Mercury; 7440-57-5/Gold
Comment In:
Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2009 Mar;212(2):233-4; author reply 235-7   [PMID:  18502173 ]

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

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