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Hg speciation and stable isotope signatures in human hair as a tracer for dietary and occupational exposure to mercury

Abstract : Exposure of humans and wildlife to various inorganic and organometallic forms of mercury (Hg) may induce adverse health effects. While human populations in developed countries are mainly exposed to marine fish monomethylmercury (MMHg), this is not necessarily the case for developing countries and diverse indigenous people. Identification of Hg exposure sources from biomonitor media such as urine or hair would be useful in combating exposure. Here we report on the Hg stable isotope signatures and Hg speciation in human hair across different gold miner, indigenous and urban populations in Bolivia and France. We found evidence for both mass-dependent isotope fractionation (MDF) and mass-independent isotope fractionation (MIF) in all hair samples. Three limiting cases of dominant exposure to inorganic Hg (IHg), freshwater fish MMHg, and marine fish MMHg sources are used to define approximate Hg isotope source signatures. Knowing the source signatures, we then estimated Hg exposure sources for the Bolivian gold miner populations. Modeled IHg levels in hair correspond well to measured IHg concentrations (R = 0.9), demonstrating that IHg exposure sources to gold miners can be monitored in hair samples following either its chemical speciation or isotopic composition. Different MMHg and inorganic exposure levels among gold miners appear to correspond to living and working conditions, including proximity to small towns, and artisanal vs large scale mining activity.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02652538
Contributor : Migration Prodinra <>
Submitted on : Friday, May 29, 2020 - 7:36:54 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 4, 2021 - 3:38:06 PM

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Laure Laffont, Jeroen E. Sonke, Laurence Maurice, Selma Luna Monrroy, Jaime Chincheros, et al.. Hg speciation and stable isotope signatures in human hair as a tracer for dietary and occupational exposure to mercury. Environmental Science and Technology, American Chemical Society, 2011, 45 (23), pp.9910 - 9916. ⟨10.1021/es202353m⟩. ⟨hal-02652538⟩

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