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Mercury in the EnvironmentPattern and Process$
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Michael Bank

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520271630

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520271630.001.0001

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Mercury and Public Health: An Assessment of Human Exposure

Mercury and Public Health: An Assessment of Human Exposure

Chapter:
(p.267) Chapter 13 Mercury and Public Health: An Assessment of Human Exposure
Source:
Mercury in the Environment
Author(s):

Wendy Mckelvey

Emily Oken

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520271630.003.0013

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

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