Mercury levels in urine and hair of children in an Andean gold-mining settlement.Int J Occup Environ Health. 2005 Apr-Jun; 11(2):132-7.IJ
This field study investigated mercury (Hg) levels in urine and hair of Andean children of indigenous Saraguro and Metizo gold miners in the Nambija, Ecuador gold mining settlement. Spot samples of urine and hair samples were collected concurrently from 80 children each. Urine samples were used to determine the inorganic Hg burden, while hair samples were used as an index of methylmercury (MeHg) exposure from consumption of Hg contaminated fish. The mean level of Hg in urine (HgU) was 10.9 microg/L, and the mean level in hair (HgH) was 6.0 microg/g. Regression analysis showed a significant association (r = 0.404, p = 0.0007) between matched HgU and HgH samples. Mean HgU and HgU levels tended to be higher for children aged 6-14 years than for a younger group. The wide range of Hg levels in the urine and hair of Andean children of gold miners may place them at risk for neurodevelopmental and learning disorders.