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Methylmercury Exposure and Health Effects in Humans: A Worldwide Concern *

The paper builds on existing literature, highlighting current understanding and identifying unresolved issues about MeHg exposure, health effects, and risk assessment, and concludes with a consensus statement. Methylmercury is a potent toxin, bioaccumulated and concentrated through the aquatic food chain, placing at risk people, throughout the globe and across the socioeconomic spectrum, who consume predatory fish or for whom fish is a dietary mainstay. Methylmercury developmental neurotoxicity has constituted the basis for risk assessments and public health policies. Despite gaps in our knowledge on new bioindicators of exposure, factors that influence MeHg uptake and toxicity, toxicokinetics, neurologic and cardiovascular effects in adult populations, and the nutritional benefits and risks from the large number of marine and freshwater fish and fish-eating species, the panel concluded that to preserve human health, all efforts need to be made to reduce and eliminate sources of exposure.

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Published on 05-04-2009
Authors: Donna Mergler, Henry A. Anderson, Laurie Hing Man Chan, Kathryn R. Mahaffey, Michael Murray, Mineshi Sakamoto, and Alan H. Stern
Source: A Journal of the Human Environment 36(1),:3-11. 2007 doi: 10.1579/0044-7447(2007),36[3:MEAHEI]2.0.CO;2