Online Program

Risk assessment of methylmercury from fish consumption in Oahu, Hawaii using hair as a biomarker of exposure

Monday, November 4, 2013

Alethea Ramos, MS, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Penelope J.E. Quintana, PhD, MPH, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Ming Ji, PhD, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Few studies address methylmercury exposure among healthy adults. Recent studies establish that men are susceptible to cardiotoxicity from methylmercury exposure, as well as known risks to the pregnant woman. This study assessed methylmercury exposure from fish consumption among 110 adults living in Oahu, Hawaii. Hair samples were obtained and questionnaires were administered for methylmercury exposure assessment to 110 adults (57 men, 53 women) throughout Oahu during December 2010 to January 2011. Hair samples were analyzed for total mercury with a direct mercury analyzer. Men > 46 years had a median of 2.00 ug/g compared to younger men with a median 0.97 ug/g (p < 0.05); the median hazard index (HI) value among men was 1.61, which was above the safety criteria of 1.0. Hair concentrations from older women had a median of 1.22 ug/g of mercury compared to 0.57 ug/g for younger women. Among women, the average HI value was 0.92; however, 38% of women of childbearing age had an HI > 1.0, indicating that both men and women were at risk. Final regression model supported that gender, age, length of residency, and fish consumption frequency were significant factors in increased hair mercury levels. Proper guidelines for safe fish consumption should include consuming < 1/4 pound of fish per meal at a frequency of < 1 day/week, and to consume fish meat and discard other organs. Following safe fish consumption practices allow residents to reap health benefits without excessive toxicant exposure.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Assess the risk of methylmercury exposure from fish consumption among residents of Oahu, Hawaii using hair as a biomarker of exposure. Identify guidelines on proper fish consumption that will not pose a risk to human health, with consideration of cultural and lifestyle factors for populations that may be susceptible to disease.

Keyword(s): Risk Assessment, Adult Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was a graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Public Health Toxicology at San Diego State University, and submitted my study as a thesis. Prior to graduate school, I was a laboratory manager for a forensic, analytical, and environmental laboratory. I performed many chemical analyses on various samples, and consider myself technically sound with instrumentation. My scientific interests include protecting the environment and health of the public from pollution and excessive toxicant exposure.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.