Determination of mercury in hair of children

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Although high or repeated exposure to different forms of Hg can have serious health consequences, the most important toxicity risk for humans is as methylmercury (MeHg) which exposure is mainly through consumption of fish. Generally, more than the 80% of Hg in hair is as MeHg, which is taken up by hair follicles as MeHg-cysteine complexes. In this context, hair samples were collected from 200 children (7 years) living in a coastal site in the North-East (A) of Italy and from 299 children (6–11 years) living in a urban area of South of Italy (B) to determine the levels of MeHg. Considering the neurotoxicity of MeHg, children were subjected to cognitive and neuropsychological tests. The hair values of Hg in the children population groups were comparable with data reported in other international surveys. On the other hand, combining results of the neurological tests with Hg levels, a possible relationship between Hg and an increase of the errors average reported in some neurological tests has been noted. Although the Hg levels were not elevated, a possible neurological influence in children, a population more susceptible than adults, might not be excluded, but the influence on neurological performances of the children could be also due to the family environment (socio economic status, educational level, etc.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology Letters
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Exposure
  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Socio economic status (SES)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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