Hair mercury concentration and fish consumption: Risk and perceptions of risk among women of childbearing age

Ling C. Chien, Chi Sian Gao, Hsing H. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to assess the hair mercury concentration of women of childbearing age in Taiwan, and to calculate a hazard quotient (HQ) to evaluate the risk of fish consumption for these women. We also examined perceptions of risk associated with fish consumption and whether women in our study changed their habits in response to such risks. The average concentration of mercury was 1.73±2.12 μg g-1 (range: 0.02-16.34 μg g-1), exceeding the US EPA reference dose of 1 μg g-1 in 52.9% of study subjects. The WHO tolerance limit of 10 μg g-1 was exceeded in 1.5% of study subjects. Hair mercury concentration in groups who consumed fish was significantly higher than in groups who never consumed fish (p-1 d-1), and the average HQ equaled 1.26. When told that some fish contain high levels of mercury that may be harmful for unborn babies, 67.6% of women still indicated that they would not change their amount of fish intake. The high hair mercury concentrations among women of childbearing age in Taiwan are a cause for concern, due to the effect on babies' brain development. The government should provide specific information about risks and benefits of fish consumption for women to make risk-balancing decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume110
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Fish consumption
  • Hair mercury concentration
  • Hazard quotient
  • Perceptions of risk
  • Women of childbearing age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)

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