Association of methylmercury intake from seafood consumption and blood mercury level among the Asian and Non-Asian populations in the United States

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Abstract

Background

MeHg is a well-established neurotoxicant for fetal brain growth and development and has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in aging populations. In the U.S., Asian populations are of particular concern because of their seafood consumption behaviors.

Objectives

Our objective was to calculate the average daily MeHg intake (ADMI) from seafood and to assess the relationship between ADMI with blood methylmercury (BMeHg) concentrations, specifically among women of reproductive age (WORA) and adults ≥ 50 years of age.

Methods

We estimated ADMI from seafood using the 30-day fish consumption data from the NHANES 2011–2014 datasets. Using multivariable linear regression, we estimated the proportional change in mean BMeHg associated with a doubling of the ADMI. Further, correlations between ADMI and BMeHg were compared between Asians and other racial/ethnic groups.

Results

Our analysis found both Asian WORA and Asian adults age ≥ 50 years old had significantly higher BMeHg levels and ADMI than their Non-Asian counterparts. Correlations between ADMI from seafood and blood Hg levels were stronger among Asian WORA than among Non-Asian WORA. Key fish species that influenced the dietary MeHg intake for Asians were mackerel, tuna, and “other known/unknown fish species”.

Conclusion

We confirmed that Asian populations have higher MeHg intake than the Non-Asian population in the U.S. and seafood intake is a key predictor of blood Hg concentration, especially among Asian women of reproductive age. Future studies should incorporate information on other known and unknown fish species that are frequently consumed by Asian populations and different parts and fish organs eaten to better understand determinants of MeHg exposure.

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