(Göteborg, Sweden) Mercury, a neurotoxic metal, has been found in high levels across all global regions in women of reproductive age, according to a new study conducted by IPEN (a global public health & environment network) and Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI). Women in the Pacific Islands and in communities near gold mining sites in Indonesia, Kenya, and Myanmar were found to have average mercury levels many times higher than US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health advisory levels.
The research, Mercury in Women of Childbearing Age in 25 Countries, was undertaken to measure the prevalence of mercury body burden at levels that can cause neurological and organ damage. Mercury in a mother’s body can be transferred to her fetus during pregnancy, exposing the developing fetus to the potent neurotoxin. The study is the first of its kind to sample as many countries and regions and spotlight women of childbearing age.
Fish samples from hot spots in Thailand contain toxic mercury
Everyday food of hundreds of thousands people living in Thailand is contaminated with mercury in various fish species, new report shows (1). This common dish ingredient in the Asian country often contains twice the amount of this toxic heavy metal than limits allow.
A new study, supported by the Minamata Convention’s Interim Secretariat hosted by UN Environment, reveals that women of childbearing age living in four Pacific Island countries have elevated levels of mercury in their bodies. Mercury monitoring in women of childbearing age in the Asia and the Pacific Region, jointly conducted by the interim secretariat of the Minamata Convention, Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), and the global NGO network IPEN, examined hair samples from women aged 18 - 44 from Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Kiribati, and two landlocked Asian countries, Tajikistan and Nepal.
Imogen Ingram, rear, with the assistance of Women United Together Marshall Islands staff member Miram Debrum, takes a hair sample during her visit to Majuro as part of a region-wide study of mercury levels in women. (Photo: Women United Together Marshall Islands)