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Mercury Exposure in Ireland: Results of the DEMOCOPHES Human Biomonitoring Study

Department of Community of Health, Health Service Executive, Kildare, Ireland
Department of Public Health, Health Service Executive, Galway, Ireland
Public Analyst's Laboratory Health Service Executive, Cork, Ireland
Public Analyst's Laboratory, Health Service Executive, Galway, Ireland
Project Manager, Health Service Executive, Palmerstown, Dublin 20, Ireland
Public Analyst's Laboratory, Health Service Executive, Dublin 2, Ireland
Environmental Health Service, Health Service Executive, Leitrim, Ireland
Environmental Health Service, Health Service Executive, Galway, Ireland
Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin 4, Ireland
Federal Public Service Health, Food chain safety and Environment, Brussels 1060, Belgium
University of Leuven, Leuven 3000, Belgium
Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Environmental Toxicology Centro Nacional de Sanidad Ambiental (CNSA), Majadahonda, Madrid 28220, Spain
Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA), Bochum 44789, Germany
Federal Environment Agency, Berlin 14195, Germany
Flemish Institute of Technological Research, Environmental Risk and Health Unit, MolB-2400, Belgium
Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Chilton OX11 ORQ, Oxfordshire UK
Environmental Health Science International, 4561 HV Hulst, The Netherlands
Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen 1353, Denmark
BiPRO GmbH, Munich 81545, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(9), 9760-9775;
Received: 7 May 2014 / Revised: 29 August 2014 / Accepted: 1 September 2014 / Published: 17 September 2014
Background: Monitoring of human exposure to mercury is important due to its adverse health effects. This study aimed to determine the extent of mercury exposure among mothers and their children in Ireland, and to identify factors associated with elevated levels. It formed part of the Demonstration of a study to Coordinate and Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale (DEMOCOPHES) pilot biomonitoring study. Methods: Hair mercury concentrations were determined from a convenience sample of 120 mother/child pairs. Mothers also completed a questionnaire. Rigorous quality assurance within DEMOCOPHES guaranteed the accuracy and international comparability of results. Results: Mercury was detected in 79.2% of the samples from mothers, and 62.5% of children’s samples. Arithmetic mean levels in mothers (0.262 µg/g hair) and children (0.149 µg /g hair) did not exceed the US EPA guidance value. Levels were significantly higher for those with higher education, and those who consumed more fish. Conclusions: The study demonstrates the benefit of human biomonitoring for assessing and comparing internal exposure levels, both on a population and an individual basis. It enables the potential harmful impact of mercury to be minimised in those highly exposed, and can therefore significantly contribute to population health. View Full-Text
Keywords: mercury; human biomonitoring; hair; exposure mercury; human biomonitoring; hair; exposure
MDPI and ACS Style

Cullen, E.; Evans, D.S.; Davidson, F.; Burke, P.; Burns, D.; Flanagan, A.; Griffin, C.; Kellegher, A.; Mannion, R.; Mulcahy, M.; Ryan, M.; Biot, P.; Casteleyn, L.; Castaño, A.; Angerer, J.; Koch, H.M.; Esteban, M.; Schindler, B.K.; Navarro, C.; Kolossa-Gehring, M.; Fiddicke, U.; Schoeters, G.; Hond, E.D.; Sepai, O.; Exley, K.; Bloemen, L.; Knudsen, L.E.; Joas, R.; Joas, A.; Aerts, D. Mercury Exposure in Ireland: Results of the DEMOCOPHES Human Biomonitoring Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 9760-9775.

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