Mercury in Human Ecology
Mercury in a tropical human ecosystem with traditional ways of living.
In an ecosystem in the Papua lowlands, mercury, mostly in the form of methylmercury, is found in fishes and reptiles at elevated levels. Mercury levels are correlated with the stable isotope ratio of nitrogen (15N/14N) in animal food which indicates a biomagnification of mercury accumulation through the food chain. In animal foods, mercury to selenium ratio is getting close to unity on the molar basis with increasing mercury levels. Dietary mercury intake and hair mercury levels in the fish-eating sector are comparable with those in developed countries. Balance between Se and Hg in the dietary intake is inclined to relative excess of Se to Hg.
Mercury in an urbanized ecosystem (Tokyo).
In an urbanized ecosystem in an industrialized country, the major source of mercury is via fish consumption. In organs obtained from forensic autopsy cases in Tokyo, methylmercury levels are uniform through all the organs (30 to 50 ng/g on average) except the liver (113 ng/g), but inorganic mercury levels are high in the liver and kidney (266 to 456 ng/g) and low in the brain, heart and spleen (4 to 9 ng/g). Selenium levels are significantly correlated with mercury levels in some organs, particularly in the kidney, where% inorganic to total mercury is as high as 85%.
From these results and additionally the results obtained on harbor seals caught in the Okhotsk sea, the role of selenium in adapting environmental mercury will be hypothetically discussed.
KeywordsMercury Concentration Marine Mammal Total Mercury Mercury Level Stable Isotope Ratio
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Chmiielnicka, J., Komsta-Szuumska, E., and Zareba, G., 1983, Effect of interaction between 65Zn, mercury and selenium in rats (retention, metallothionein, endogenous copper), Arch.Toxicol., 53:165.Google Scholar
- Harris, D. R. (ed.) 1980, “Human Ecology in Savanna Environment”, Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
- Matsuo,. N., Suzuki, T., Yoshinaga, J., Hongo, T., and Akagi, H., Hair vs. organs: comparison of mercury concentrations in contemporary Japanese unpublished.Google Scholar
- Ohtsuka, R., 1983, “Oriomo Papuans: Ecology of Sago-Eaters in Lowland Papua”, University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo.Google Scholar
- Ohtsuka, R., and Suzuki, T. (eds.), 1990, “Population Ecology of Human Survival, Bioecological Studies of the Gidra in Papua, New Guinea”, University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo.Google Scholar
- Shirabe, T., Eto, K., and Takeuchi, T., 1979, Identification of mercury in the brain of Minamata disease victims by electron microscopic X-ray microanalysis, Neurotoxicology, 1:349.Google Scholar
- Suzuki, T., Watanabe, S., Hongo, T., Kawabe, T., Inaoka, T., Ohtsuka, R., and Akimichi, T., 1988, Mercury in scalp hair of Papuans in the Fly estuary, Papua, New Guinea, Asia-Pacific J. Publ. Health, 2:39.Google Scholar
- Suzuki, T., 1988, Selenium: Its Role in Metal-Metal Interaction, in: “Environmental and Occupational Chemical Hazards, Proceedings Asia-Pacific Symposium on Environmental and Occupational Toxicology,” K. Sumino, S. Iwai, H. P. Lee, C. N. Ong, and K. Saijoh, eds., 21–30, International Center for Medical Research, Kobe University School of Medicine, Kobe.Google Scholar
- Suzuki, T., 1989, Human adaptability to environmental pollutants, in particular methylmercury, Sangyo-Igaku Rebyu, 2:25, (in Japanese).Google Scholar
- Ujioka, T., 1960, Analytical studies on methylmercury in animal organs and foodstuff, J. Kumamoto Med. Assoc., 34 (Suppl. 1):383. (in Japanese)Google Scholar
- van Fleet, J. F., Boon, G. D., and Ferrans, V. J., 1981, Induction of lesions of selenium-vitamin E deficiency in weanling swine fed silver, cobalt, tellurium, zinc, cadmium and vanadium, Am. J. Vet. Res., 42:789.Google Scholar
- World Health Organization, 1972. Evaluation of certian food additives and contaminants, mercury, lead and cadmium. WHO Tech. Rep. Ser. No. 505.Google Scholar
- World Health Organization, IPCS International Programme on Chemical Safety, 1989, Environmental Health Criteria 86, Mercury-Environmental Aspects, WHO, Geneva.Google Scholar
- Yoshinaga, J., Minagawa, M., Suzuki, T., Ohtsuka, R., Kawabe, T., Hongo, T. Inaoka, T., and Akimichi, T. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic characterization for New Guinea Foods, Ecol. Food Nutr., in press.Google Scholar
- Yoshinaga, J., Suzuki, T., Hongo, T., Minagawa, M., Ohtsuka, R., Kawabe, T., Inaoka, T., and Akimichi, T. Mercury concentration correlates with nitrogen stable isotope ratio in animal food of Papuans. Ecotoxicol. Environ. Safety, in press.Google Scholar
- Yoshinaga, J., Suzuki, T., Ohtsuka, R., Kawabe, T., Hongo, T., Imai, H., Inaoka, T., and Akimichi, T. Dietary selenium intake of the Gidra, Papua, New Guinea. Ecol. Food. Nutr., in press.Google Scholar