Health News of Monday, 4 February 2013
A new study has revealed that globally, mercury contamination regularly exceeds health advisory levels in humans and fish.
The study identified global biological mercury hotspots that are of particular concern to human populations and the ecosystems on which they depend.
The data in this report represents 108 fish samples from nine countries and 152 human hair samples from eight countries.
The study said the countries represent all regions in the United Nations regions and include a mix of developed countries, developing countries, and countries with economies in transition along with one Small Island Developing State.
Findings demonstrate that 84 percent of fish sampled were not safe for consumption for more than one meal per month.
Over 13 percent of the fish sampled would not be recommended by The World Health Organization and the European Commission for commercial sale.
The research titled: Global Mercury Hotspots” which was jointly manned by experts from the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), the International POP Elimination Network and the Center for Research and Education for Development was made available to the Ghana News Agency over the weekend.
It said five types of major mercury point sources were chosen to examine mercury pathways from their origin to methylmercury exposure in fish and people.
It said sites represent releases of mercury to air, land and water.
It said IPEN-BRI collaboration generated fish mercury concentrations from three types of common mercury point sources: contaminated sites, chlor-alkali facilities, and coal-fired power plants.
The study said mercury in human hair was collected from two countries with global deposition as a source, while other countries are directly related to three types of point source releases; artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM), coal-fired power plants, and mixed industrial sites that contain mixtures of chlor-alkali production, oil refining, waste incineration, and cement manufacturing.
It said more than 82 percent of the 152 individuals contained mercury concentrations greater than the United States Environmental Protection Agency reference dose level of 1.0 ppm.
The research findings shows that in Africa, fish caught in Cameroonian waters contain extremely high concentrations of mercury, a chemical element and metal harmful to human health.
This IPEN-BRI study highlights the global scale and ubiquitous nature of mercury contamination and reinforces efforts to develop a comprehensive and effective global mercury treaty.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is supporting intergovernmental negotiations to develop a global, legally binding treaty on mercury to reduce risks to human health and the environment.
The release of mercury is of global importance because of its ability to move across large spaces via air and water currents.
The world’s oceans are one of the primary environmental reservoirs where mercury is deposited from the air or from inputs from river watersheds.