Blood mercury levels among Ontario anglers and sport-fish eaters

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We conducted two surveys of Ontario (Canada) fishers: a stratified sample of licensed anglers in two Lake Ontario communities (anglers, n=232) and a shore and community-based sample in five Great Lakes' Areas of Concern (AOC eaters, n=86). Among the 176 anglers consuming their catch, the median number of sport-fish meals/year was 34.2 meals and 10.9, respectively, in two communities, with a mean blood total mercury level among these sport-fish consumers of 2.8 μg/L. The vast majority of fish eaten by AOC eaters was from Ontario waters (74%). For AOC eaters, two broad country-of-origin groups were assembled: Euro-Canadians (EC) and Asian-Canadians (AC). EC consumed a median of 174 total fish meals/year and had a geometric mean total mercury level of 2.0 μg/L. Corresponding AC figures were 325 total fish meals/year and 7.9 μg/L. Overall, mercury levels among AOC eaters were higher than in many other Great Lakes populations but lower than in populations frequently consuming seafood. In multivariate models, mercury levels were significantly associated with levels of fish consumption among both anglers and EC AOC eaters. Given the nutritional and social benefits of fish consumption, prudent species and location choices should continue.

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