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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(3), 2437-2455;

The Influence of Changes in Lifestyle and Mercury Exposure in Riverine Populations of the Madeira River (Amazon Basin) near a Hydroelectric Project

Escola Nacional de Saúde Público Sergio Arouca—Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rua Leopoldo Bulhões, 1480 Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, 21041-210, Brazil
Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde—Universidade de Brasília, C.P. 04322, Campus—Asa Norte, Brasília, Distrito Federal, 70919-970, Brazil
Instituto Fernandes Figueira—Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Av. Rui Barbosa, 716 Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, 22250-020, Brazil
Laboratório de Química da Pontifícia, Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, R. Marquês de São Vicente, 225. Gávea, Rio de Janeiro, 22451-900, Brazil
Santo Antônio Energia, Rua Tabajara, 824—Olaria, Porto Velho, Rondônia, 76801-316, Brazil
Laboratório de Biogeoquímica Ambiental Wolfgang C. Pfeiffer, Universidade Federal de Rondônia, Porto Velho, RO, 76801-974, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Received: 13 December 2013 / Revised: 28 January 2014 / Accepted: 30 January 2014 / Published: 26 February 2014
PDF [751 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


In the Amazon Basin, naturally occurring methylmercury bioaccumulates in fish, which is a key source of protein consumed by riverine populations. The hydroelectric power-plant project at Santo Antônio Falls allows us to compare the Hg exposure of riverine populations sparsely distributed on both sides of the Madeira river before the area is to be flooded. From 2009 to 2011, we concluded a population survey of the area (N = 2,008; representing circa 80% of community residents) that estimated fish consumption and mercury exposure of riverine populations with different degrees of lifestyle related to fish consumption. Fish samples from the Madeira river (N = 1,615) and 110 species were analyzed for Hg. Hair-Hg was significantly lower (p < 0.001) in less isolated communities near to the capital of Porto Velho (median 2.32 ppm) than in subsistence communities in the Cuniã Lake, 180 km from Porto Velho city (median 6.3 ppm). Fish Hg concentrations ranged from 0.01 to 6.06 µg/g, depending on fish size and feeding behavior. Currently available fish in the Madeira river show a wide variability in Hg concentrations. Despite cultural similarities, riparians showed hair-Hg distribution patterns that reflect changes in fish-eating habits driven by subsistence characteristics. View Full-Text
Keywords: mercury in hair; fish intake; riverine communities; Amazon basin mercury in hair; fish intake; riverine communities; Amazon basin

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Hacon, S.S.; Dórea, J.G.; Fonseca, M.D.F.; Oliveira, B.A.; Mourão, D.S.; Ruiz, C.M.V.; Gonçalves, R.A.; Mariani, C.F.; Bastos, W.R. The Influence of Changes in Lifestyle and Mercury Exposure in Riverine Populations of the Madeira River (Amazon Basin) near a Hydroelectric Project. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 2437-2455.

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