TitleRegional and temporal trends in blood mercury concentrations and fish consumption in women of child bearing Age in the united states using NHANES data from 1999-2010.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCusack, L, Smit, E, Kile, ML, Harding, AK
JournalEnviron Health
Date Published2017 Feb 17

BACKGROUND: The primary route of exposure to methylmercury (MeHg), a known developmental neurotoxicant, is from ingestion of seafood. Since 2004, women of reproductive age in the U.S. have been urged to eat fish and shellfish as part of a healthy diet while selecting species that contain lower levels MeHg. Yet few studies have examined trends in MeHg exposure and fish consumption over time in this group of women with respect to their geographical location in the U.S.

METHODS: Data from six consecutive cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2010 (n = 9597) were used to determine trends in blood mercury for women aged 16-49 residing in different regions in the US, and according to age, race/ethnicity, income level, and fish consumption using geographic variables.

RESULTS: Overall, mean blood mercury concentrations differed across survey cycles and mercury concentrations were lower in 2009-2010 compared to 1999-2000. There were regional patterns in fish consumption and blood Hg concentrations with women living in coastal regions having the highest fish consumption in the past 30 days and the highest blood Hg levels compared to women residing inland.

CONCLUSIONS: On average, U.S. women of reproductive age were consuming more fish and blood mercury levels were lower in 2009-2010 compared to 1999-2000. However, efforts to encourage healthy fish consumption may need to be tailored to different regions in the U.S. given the observed spatial variability in blood mercury levels.

Alternate JournalEnviron Health
PubMed ID28212649
PubMed Central IDPMC5316155