Blood Mercury Concentration and Related Factors in an Urban Coastal Area in Korea

Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Dong-A University, Korea.
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 09/2010; 43(5):377-86. DOI: 10.3961/jpmph.2010.43.5.377
Source: PubMed


This study was carried out for the purpose of evaluating the blood mercury concentration of the residents of Busan, Korea, as well as the relationship between the mercury concentration and the pattern of fish consumption along with other epidemiological factors.
Two hundred ninety-three subjects (147 men and 146 women), who were aged 40 years or more, were recruited into this study between June and October 2009. The mean age of the subjects was 54.3 years (with a range of 40-70 years). Mercury concentrations in blood samples were measured using a gold-amalgam collection method.
The geometric mean concentration of mercury in the total subjects was 8.63 µg/L [range: 1.48~45.71 µg/L]. The blood mercury concentration of the men (9.55 µg/L) was significantly higher than that of the women (7.76 µg/L). The blood mercury concentration of those who eat fish more than 4 times per week was higher than others, and was statistically significant (male p = 0.0019, female p = 0.0002). According to the multiple analysis, the blood mercury concentration was significantly affected by the consumed fish but other epidemiological factors were not related.
It was found that the subjects who have consumed a large amount of fish may have high blood mercury concentration. It appears that fish consumption can influence blood mercury concentration. Therefore, guidelines for fish consumption that will decrease blood mercury concentration might be necessary in Korea.

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    • "One study reported that blood Hg (mean level 4.5 µg/L) was associated with decreased osteoporosis risk evaluated in Korean women [19]. These results could be driven by the fact that the primary source of Hg in Korea was fish consumption [20]. Fish consumption provides essential n-3 and n-6 fatty acids [21], which are protective against osteoporosis [22]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have reported that heavy metals have a relation with osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures. In this study, we investigated the association between heavy metal exposure status, as assessed by serum major heavy metals such as lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), and mercury (Hg) and bone mineral density (BMD) status among Korean adults. A total of 64 adults participated in this study and were assigned to one of three study groups based on the T-score of spine BMD: a normal group (n = 21, T-score > -1), osteopenia group (n = 29, -2.5 < T-score ≤ -1) and osteoporosis group (n = 14, T-score ≤ -2.5). We also assessed serum levels of heavy metals (Pb, Cd and Hg) by using atomic absorption spectrometer (AAS) and daily nutrient and food intakes for 3 days by using 24-hr recall method in the subjects. The mean age was significantly higher in the osteoporosis group compared with the osteopenia and normal groups (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in serum levels of Pb, Cd and Hg among the three groups after adjusting for age. Daily intakes of energy, nutrients were not significantly different among the three groups. The osteoporosis group consumed significantly higher fish and shellfish than the other groups (p < 0.05). In the correlation analysis controlling for age, sex, BMI, and BMD status, the serum Cd level was significantly negatively correlated with intake of cereals, milks and total food. In summary, we did not find a direct association between serum heavy metal levels and BMD status. However, negative relationships were found between serum heavy metal levels and intake of some foods.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013
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    • "While our isolated finding for mercury may be due to chance or may result from residual confounding, one other study that evaluated the role of total blood mercury on BMD in Korean women found that mercury (mean level 4.5 μg/l) was associated with decreased osteoporosis risk (Cho et al., 2011). These results could be driven by the fact that the primary source of mercury in Korea was fish consumption (Jo et al., 2010), which is also true among individuals in the US (Mahaffey et al., 2009). Fish consumption provides essential n-3 and n-6 fatty acids (Philibert et al., 2006), which are protective against osteoporosis (Farina et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to metals, specifically cadmium, lead, and mercury, is widespread and is associated with reduced bone mineral density (BMD) in older populations, but the associations among premenopausal women are unclear. Therefore, we evaluated the relationship between these metals in blood and BMD (whole body, total hip, lumbar spine, and non-dominant wrist) quantified by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry in 248 premenopausal women, aged 18-44. Participants were of normal body mass index (mean BMI 24.1), young (mean age 27.4), 60% were white, 20% non-Hispanic black, 15% Asian, and 6% other race group, and were from the Buffalo, New York region. The median (interquartile range) level of cadmium was 0.30μg/l (0.19-0.43), of lead was 0.86μg/dl (0.68-1.20), and of mercury was 1.10μg/l (0.58-2.00). BMD was treated both as a continuous variable in linear regression and dichotomized at the 10th percentile for logistic regression analyses. Mercury was associated with reduced odds of decreased lumbar spine BMD (0.66, 95% confidence interval: 0.44, 0.99), but overall, metals at environmentally relevant levels of exposure were not associated with reduced BMD in this population of healthy, reproductive-aged women. Further research is needed to determine if the blood levels of cadmium, lead, and mercury in this population are sufficiently low that there is no substantive impact on bone, or if effects on bone can be expected only at older ages.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Environmental Research
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    • "The 120 Spanish people with the average daily fish intake of 73.9 g showed a statistically significant relationship (P = 0.0001) between fish consumption and mercury concentration in red blood cells [30]. Furthermore, blood mercury levels increased gradually by fish/shellfish consumption frequency in men (P = 0.0019) and women (P = 0.0002) in Pusan, a coastal city in Korea [31]. According to the 72nd report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, the average dietary exposure to total mercury in the Japanese population (0.17 µg/kg body weight per day) was 4 times higher than that of the Korean population (0.04 µg/kg body weight per day) [32], even though fish supply was similar between the two populations (56.6 vs. 56.1 kg/capita/yr) [33]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous Korean total diet studies (KTDSs) have estimated dietary exposure to toxic chemicals based on 110-120 representative foods selected from over 500 foods appeared in the Korea National Health & Nutrition Examination Surveys (KNHANES), which would result in a possible underestimation. In order to find measures for a closer-to-real estimate of dietary exposure to heavy metals, this study examined the feasibility of mapping foods to the representative foods in the KTDS by comparing estimates. In mapping, those foods not analyzed in the 2009 KTDS (443 out of 559 foods appeared in the 2007 KNHANES) were mapped to the 114 representative foods used in the 2009 KTDS based on the closeness in regards to biological systematics and morphological similarity. Dietary exposures to total mercury and lead were re-estimated using the content of total mercury and lead in 114 foods analyzed in the 2009 KTDS, food intake, and individual's own body weight for respondents in the 2007 KNHANES instead of mean body weight of Koreans used in the 2009 KTDS. The re-estimates of exposure with mapping were approximately 50% higher than the original estimates reported in the 2009 KTDS. In addition, mapping enabled the comparison of percentile distribution of the exposure among populations of different age groups. In conclusion, estimates via mapping resulted in a more comprehensive estimation of dietary exposure to heavy metals present in foods that Koreans consume.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Nutrition research and practice
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