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Revista de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0124-0064


ARGUMEDO-GARCIA, Marcela P.; CONSUEGRA-SOLORZANO, Adolfo; VIDAL-DURANGO, John V.  and  MARRUGO-NEGRETE, José L.. Population exposure to mercury in the municipality of San Marcos (Sucre department) due to eating contaminated rice (Oryza sativa). Rev. salud pública [online]. 2013, vol.15, n.6, pp.886-898. ISSN 0124-0064.

Objective Determining the magnitude of mercury exposure in the population living in the municipality of San Marcos due to eating contaminate drice (Oryza sativa). Methods Twenty people (representative of the population) were selected, as were food (raw rice) and hair samples for determining total mercury and methyl mercury by cold vapour atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Student's t-test was used for comparing different samples (p<0.05 significance level) and correlation was analysed for determining the relationship between consumption habits and mercury concentration in humans. Results Rice sold loose (i.e. unpackaged San Marcos white rice) was the only sample having 0.021 mg/g minimum total mercury concentration, whilst rice sold in packaged form yielded no measurable value. Only 5% of the population sample exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 0.1 mg/kg bw/day reference dose (RfD) for Me Hg ingestion (RfD). Conclusions The HgT exposure of people living in and around San Marcos concerning rice consumption was low and did not involve great risks to their health. However, frequent consumption of other types of contaminated food could pose a potential threat to the consumers' health, meaning that ongoing environmental monitoring is necessary.

Keywords : Pollution; mercury; mining; Oryza sativa; public health; spectrophotometry; atomic.

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