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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 10020-10038; doi:10.3390/ijerph120810020

An Investigation of Organic and Inorganic Mercury Exposure and Blood Pressure in a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community in Ghana

1
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
2
Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
3
Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, 101 West Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
4
Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan, 4700 Haven Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
5
Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, 21, 111 Lakeshore Rd., Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Susan Keane and Paleah Black Moher
Received: 26 June 2015 / Revised: 28 July 2015 / Accepted: 17 August 2015 / Published: 21 August 2015
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Abstract

There is increasing concern about the cardiovascular effects of mercury (Hg) exposure, and that organic methylmercury and inorganic Hg2+ may affect the cardiovascular system and blood pressure differentially. In small-scale gold mining communities where inorganic, elemental Hg exposures are high, little is known about the effects of Hg on blood pressure. In 2011, we assessed the relationship between Hg exposure and blood pressure (BP) in a cross-sectional study of adults from a small-scale gold mining community, Kejetia, and subsistence farming community, Gorogo, in Ghana’s Upper East Region. Participants’ resting heart rate and BP were measured, and hair and urine samples were provided to serve as biomarkers of organic and inorganic Hg exposure, respectively. Participants included 70 miners and 26 non-miners from Kejetia and 75 non-miners from Gorogo. Total specific gravity-adjusted urinary and hair Hg was higher among Kejetia miners than Kejetia non-miners and Gorogo participants (median urinary Hg: 5.17, 1.18, and 0.154 µg/L, respectively; hair Hg: 0.945, 0.419, and 0.181 µg/g, respectively). Hypertension was prevalent in 17.7% of Kejetia and 21.3% of Gorogo participants. Urinary and hair Hg were not significantly associated with systolic or diastolic BP for Kejetia or Gorogo participants while adjusting for sex, age, and smoking status. Although our results follow trends seen in other studies, the associations were not of statistical significance. Given the unique study population and high exposures to inorganic Hg, the work contained here will help increase our understanding of the cardiovascular effects of Hg. View Full-Text
Keywords: mercury; blood pressure; Ghana; artisanal and small-scale gold mining; ASGM mercury; blood pressure; Ghana; artisanal and small-scale gold mining; ASGM
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rajaee, M.; Sánchez, B.N.; Renne, E.P.; Basu, N. An Investigation of Organic and Inorganic Mercury Exposure and Blood Pressure in a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community in Ghana. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 10020-10038.

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