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Toxics 2018, 6(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics6030039

Survey of the Extent of the Persisting Effects of Methylmercury Pollution on the Inhabitants around the Shiranui Sea, Japan

1
Kyoritsu Neurology and Rehabilitation Clinic, 2-2-28 Sakurai-cho, Minamata 867-0045, Japan
2
Kikuyou Hospital, 5587 Haramizu, Kikuyou 869-1102, Japan
3
Minamata Kyoritsu Hospital, 2-2-12 Sakurai-cho, Minamata 867-0045, Japan
4
Department of Human Ecology, Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science, Okayama University, 3-1-1 Tsushima-naka, Kita-ku, Okayama 700-8530, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 June 2018 / Revised: 15 July 2018 / Accepted: 18 July 2018 / Published: 20 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mercury and Methylmercury Toxicology and Risk Assessment)
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Abstract

In 1956 methylmercury poisoning, known as Minamata disease, was discovered among the inhabitants around the Shiranui Sea, Kyushu, Japan. Although about five hundred thousand people living in the area had supposedly been exposed to methylmercury, administrative agencies and research institutes had not performed any subsequent large scale, continuous health examination, so the actual extent of the negative health effects was not clearly documented. In 2009, we performed health surveys in order to examine residents in the polluted area and to research the extent of the polluted area and period of pollution. We analyzed data collected on 973 people (age = 62.3 ± 11.7) who had lived in the polluted area and had eaten the fish there and a control group, consisting of 142 persons (age = 62.0 ± 10.5), most of whom had not lived in the polluted area. Symptoms and neurological signs were statistically more prevalent in the four groups than in the control group and were more prevalent and severe in those who had eaten most fish. The patterns of positive findings of symptoms and neurological findings in the four groups were similar. Our data indicates that Minamata disease had spread outside of the central area and could still be observed recently, almost 50 years after the Chisso Company’s factory had halted the dumping of mercury polluted waste water back in 1968. View Full-Text
Keywords: methylmercury; long term exposure; symptoms; neurological findings; severity; delayed toxicity; correlation of signs and symptoms; dose-response relationship methylmercury; long term exposure; symptoms; neurological findings; severity; delayed toxicity; correlation of signs and symptoms; dose-response relationship
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Takaoka, S.; Fujino, T.; Kawakami, Y.; Shigeoka, S.-I.; Yorifuji, T. Survey of the Extent of the Persisting Effects of Methylmercury Pollution on the Inhabitants around the Shiranui Sea, Japan. Toxics 2018, 6, 39.

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