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Human-biomonitoring and individual soil measurements for children and mothers in an area with recently detected mercury-contaminations and public health concerns: a cross-sectional study

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journal contribution
posted on 19.07.2018 by David Imo, Stefanie Muff, Rudolf Schierl, Katarzyna Byber, Christine Hitzke, Matthias Bopp, Marion Maggi, Stephan Bose-O’Reilly, Leonhard Held, Holger Dressel

In this study, we assessed intracorporal mercury concentrations in subjects living on partially mercury-contaminated soils in a defined area in Switzerland. We assessed 64 mothers and 107 children who resided in a defined area for at least 3 months. Mercury in biological samples (urine and hair) was measured, a detailed questionnaire was administered for each individual, and individual mercury soil values were obtained. Human biomonitoring results were compared with health-related and reference values. Mothers and children in our study had geometric means (GMs) of 0.22 µg Hg/g creatinine in urine (95th percentile (P95) = 0.85 µg Hg/g) and 0.16 µg Hg/g (P95 = 0.56 µg Hg/g), respectively. In hair, mothers and children had GMs of 0.21 µg Hg/g (P95 = 0.94 µg/g) and 0.18 µg/g (P95 = 0.60 µg/g), respectively. We found no evidence for an association between mercury values in soil and those in human specimens nor for a health threat in residential mothers and children.


This study was the basis for an expert opinion we provided to the canton of Valais. That opinion was financed by the Department of Health, Social Affairs and Culture of the Canton of Valais. The independence of this study, including the freedom to design, conduct, interpret and publish this study, was contractually guaranteed and is not compromised by any controlling sponsor.