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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7(6), 2666-2691; doi:10.3390/ijerph7062666

Methylmercury Exposure and Health Effects from Rice and Fish Consumption: A Review

State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guiyang, 550002, China
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Received: 10 May 2010 / Revised: 4 June 2010 / Accepted: 8 June 2010 / Published: 21 June 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metals and Health)
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Abstract

Methylmercury (MeHg) is highly toxic, and its principal target tissue in humans is the nervous system, which has made MeHg intoxication a public health concern for many decades. The general population is primarily exposed to MeHg through consumption of contaminated fish and marine mammals, but recent studies have reported high levels of MeHg in rice and confirmed that in China the main human exposure to MeHg is related to frequent rice consumption in mercury (Hg) polluted areas. This article reviews the progress in the research on MeHg accumulation in rice, human exposure and health effects, and nutrient and co-contaminant interactions. Compared with fish, rice is of poor nutritional quality and lacks specific micronutrients identified as having health benefits (e.g., n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, selenium, essential amino acids). The effects of these nutrients on the toxicity of MeHg should be better addressed in future epidemiologic and clinical studies. More emphasis should be given to assessing the health effects of low level MeHg exposure in the long term, with appropriate recommendations, as needed, to reduce MeHg exposure in the rice-eating population.
Keywords: rice; fish; methylmercury exposure; nutrition; health effects rice; fish; methylmercury exposure; nutrition; health effects
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Li, P.; Feng, X.; Qiu, G. Methylmercury Exposure and Health Effects from Rice and Fish Consumption: A Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7, 2666-2691.

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