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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
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 May 2010; in revised form: 4 June 2010 / Accepted: 8 June 2010 / Published: 21 June 2010
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
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
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.
Li P, Feng X, Qiu G. Methylmercury Exposure and Health Effects from Rice and Fish Consumption: A Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2010; 7(6):2666-2691.
Li, Ping; Feng, Xinbin; Qiu, Guangle. 2010. "Methylmercury Exposure and Health Effects from Rice and Fish Consumption: A Review." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 7, no. 6: 2666-2691.