Biomonitoring of Mercury Levels in Hair Samples from Women of Child-Bearing Age in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, FL R. Rao, N. Renier, J. Lanza, P. Wilson, D. Hodges, S. Rivers Escambia County Health Dept. and University of West Florida Pensacola, Florida ABSTRACT RESULTS CONCLUSIONS Background - According to the U.S. EPA, nearly Interim results for 70% of the study population have The information gained through this biomonitoring 75% of fish consumption advisories in the United been received and analyzed. The mean Hg (µg/g) in Distribution of Hg in Study Population program has established a baseline mercury data set States have been issued due to mercury the hair was 0.581 (0.117, 0.282 and 0.610 at 25th, that can be used in future studies to determine whether contamination (U.S. EPA, 2003). Despite a 50th and 75th percentiles, respectively) and 16% fell levels in the human population change in response to significant reduction in the use and release of above the recommended EPA known safe level of 1.50% new environmental regulations. Local fishing mercury from industrial processes since the 1970s, 1.0 µg/g Hg in hair (NRC, 2000). There was a populations appear to be better informed of state fish mercury contamination associated with increased 14% significant correlation between increased MeHg consumption advisories, although it did not decrease fossil fuel combustion poses a growing levels and increased self-reported consumption of the amount of MeHg that was found in their hair. The contamination problem in many areas (U.S. EPA, fish over the previous 30 days (Pearson Correlation data suggest that public health interventions such as 2000). The Southeast, and in particular the Gulf R=0.210; p<0.01) and 60 days (Pearson Correlation education and fish advisories should be geared more Coast, experiences the highest levels of mercury R=0.207; p<0.01). Only 15.7% of the study towards pregnant women, who are at most risk. Public deposition in the U.S. (NADP, 2004), and the State population reported catching their own fish, while the health education may need to be focused on fish of Florida issues fish consumption advisories due to majority purchased fish at a store (60.8%) and/or markets and restaurants because the majority of the mercury levels on varying fish species. Thus, the consumed fish at a restaurant (64.4%). No study population consumed their fish through those human population in the Florida Panhandle, near correlation was found between MeHg levels and n=343 avenues and they were less likely to know about the Pensacola, is potentially exposed to highly elevated knowledge about the fish advisory although people fish advisory. Future studies should focus on species of levels of mercury, primarily through the consumption who caught fish were 2.7 times more likely to know fish consumed and a more detailed inventory of fish of regionally caught fish species. Many of the fish <1 µg/g about the fish advisory than people who did not 84.50% consumed to better understand the risk factors involved consumption surveys that have been issued in the 1-3 µg/g consume fish (p<0.05), and 1.7 times more likely to with elevated MeHg in this high risk subset of our U.S specifically target women of child bearing age know about the advisory than people who bought > 3 µg/g population. because of the concerns that maternal intake of their fish at a store or restaurant (p<0.05). REFERENCES contaminants poses a major health risk to a developing fetus. The human nervous system is Budtz-Jorgensen, E., Grandjean, P., Jorgensen, P.J., Weihe, P.l., Interim results for 70% of the study population have Keiding, N., 2004. Association between mercury concentrations highly vulnerable to methyl mercury (MeHg), and been received and analyzed. 16% fell above the in blood and hair in methylmercury-exposed subjects at different exposure to high levels of MeHg during the last two ages. Environmental Research 95, 385-393. trimesters of pregnancy produces documented recommended EPA safe level of 1.0 µg/g. neurodevelopment problems in children (McDowell NADP, 2004. National Atmospheric Deposition Program 2003 et al., 2004). Biomonitoring of human hair for Annual Summary. National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP), Illinois State Water Survey. NADP Data Report 2004- mercury is a useful indicator of exposure over 01. extended periods of time and hair-mercury concentrations reflect longer-term averages than Aware of Fish Advisory National Research Council. Committee on the Toxicological Effects levels in the blood (Budtz-Jorgensen et al., 2004). of Methylmercury. 2000.Wahshington, DC: National Academies Press MATERIALS and METHODS McDowell, M.A., Dillon, C.F., Osterloh, J., Bolger, P.M., Pellizzari, The study collected hair from approximately 600 Supplies used for hair sampling. A copy of the 31.40% E., Fernando, R., Oca, R.M.d., Susan E. Schober, T.S., Jones, R.L., Mahaffey, K.R., 2004. Hair mercury levels in U.S. children participants (women 18-49 years old regardless of Florida Fish Advisory was provided to each and women of childbearing age: reference range data from pregnancy status) from Santa Rosa and Escambia participant. NHANES 1999-2000. Environmental Health Perspectives 112, Counties, Florida. Only persons that had resided in 1165–1171. the study area for at least one year and could give informed consent were included. Hair samples SPSS, 12.0 version 2002. Chicago, IL (approximately 100 strands of hair ~ 50 mg) were collected by trained staff, and sent to a certified n=602 U.S. EPA, 2000. Guidance for assessing chemical contaminant data for use in fish advisories: fish sampling and analysis. US analytical chemistry laboratory for analysis of 68.60% Yes EPA. mercury levels. In addition, each volunteer was No interviewed regarding demographic information and U.S. EPA, 2003. Update: National Listing of Fish and Wildlife Advisories. United States Environmental Protection Agency, recent fish consumption practices. Demographic Office of Water. data collected included residency zip code, race, Acknowledgements: This study was supported by Grant # 1 gender, years of residency, age, and pregnancy R01 EH000096-01 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control status. A follow-up survey was given to the The majority of participants were unaware of the and Prevention (CDC) to the University of West Florida participants to allow for feedback and a satisfaction Florida Fish Advisory prior to the study. No (Principal Investigator, K. Ranga Rao). The contents of this Approximately 100 strands of hair were collected correlation was found between levels of mercury abstract are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not rating of the project. Descriptive statistics and from an inconspicuous location close to the scalp. and knowledge of the advisory. necessarily represent the official views of the CDC. correlation analysis were run using SPSS version 12.0 (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL).