Title: Fish consumption patterns and hair mercury levels in children and their mothers in 17 EU countries
Authors: Castaño, Argelia ×
Cutanda, Francisco
Esteban, Marta
Pärt, Peter
Navarro, Carmen
Gómez, Silvia
Rosado, Montserrat
López, Ana
López, Estrella
Exley, Karen
Schindler, Birgit K
Govarts, Eva
Casteleyn, Ludwine
Kolossa-Gehring, Marike
Fiddicke, Ulrike
Koch, Holger
Angerer, Jürgen
Hond, Elly Den
Schoeters, Greet
Sepai, Ovnair
Horvat, Milena
Knudsen, Lisbeth
Aerts, Dominique
Joas, Anke
Biot, Pierre
Joas, Reinhard
Jiménez-Guerrero, José A
Diaz, Gema
Pirard, Catherine
Katsonouri, Andromachi
Cerna, Milena
Gutleb, Arno C
Ligocka, Danuta
Reis, Fátima M
Berglund, Marika
Lupsa, Ioana-Rodica
Halzlová, Katarína
Charlier, Corinne
Cullen, Elizabeth
Hadjipanayis, Adamos
Krsková, Andrea
Jensen, Janne F
Nielsen, Jeanette K
Schwedler, Gerda
Wilhelm, Michael
Rudnai, Peter
Középesy, Szilvia
Davidson, Fred
Fischer, Mark E
Janasik, Beata
Namorado, Sónia
Gurzau, Anca E
Jajcaj, Michal
Mazej, Darja
Tratnik, Janja Snoj
Larsson, Kristin
Lehmann, Andrea
Crettaz, Pierre
Lavranos, Giagkos
Posada, Manuel #
Issue Date: Aug-2015
Publisher: Elsevier
Series Title: Environmental Research vol:141 pages:58-68
Article number: S0013-9351(14)00393-4
Abstract: The toxicity of methylmercury (MeHg) in humans is well established and the main source of exposure is via the consumption of large marine fish and mammals. Of particular concern are the potential neurodevelopmental effects of early life exposure to low-levels of MeHg. Therefore, it is important that pregnant women, children and women of childbearing age are, as far as possible, protected from MeHg exposure. Within the European project DEMOCOPHES, we have analyzed mercury (Hg) in hair in 1799 mother-child pairs from 17 European countries using a strictly harmonized protocol for mercury analysis. Parallel, harmonized questionnaires on dietary habits provided information on consumption patterns of fish and marine products. After hierarchical cluster analysis of consumption habits of the mother-child pairs, the DEMOCOPHES cohort can be classified into two branches of approximately similar size: one with high fish consumption (H) and another with low consumption (L). All countries have representatives in both branches, but Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Portugal and Sweden have twice as many or more mother-child pairs in H than in L. For Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia the situation is the opposite, with more representatives in L than H. There is a strong correlation (r=0.72) in hair mercury concentration between the mother and child in the same family, which indicates that they have a similar exposure situation. The clustering of mother-child pairs on basis of their fish consumption revealed some interesting patterns. One is that for the same sea fish consumption, other food items of marine origin, like seafood products or shellfish, contribute significantly to the mercury levels in hair. We conclude that additional studies are needed to assess and quantify exposure to mercury from seafood products, in particular. The cluster analysis also showed that 95% of mothers who consume once per week fish only, and no other marine products, have mercury levels 0.55μg/g. Thus, the 95th percentile of the distribution in this group is only around half the US-EPA recommended threshold of 1μg/g mercury in hair. Consumption of freshwater fish played a minor role in contributing to mercury exposure in the studied cohort. The DEMOCOPHES data shows that there are significant differences in MeHg exposure across the EU and that exposure is highly correlated with consumption of fish and marine products. Fish and marine products are key components of a healthy human diet and are important both traditionally and culturally in many parts of Europe. Therefore, the communication of the potential risks of mercury exposure needs to be carefully balanced to take into account traditional and cultural values as well as the potential health benefits from fish consumption. European harmonized human biomonitoring programs provide an additional dimension to national HMB programs and can assist national authorities to tailor mitigation and adaptation strategies (dietary advice, risk communication, etc.) to their country's specific requirements.
ISSN: 0013-9351
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Clinical Genetics
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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