Health effects in the Flemish population in relation to low levels of mercury exposure : from organ to transcriptome level
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
International journal of hygiene and environmental health. - München
, p. 239-247
University of Antwerp
Due to possible health risks, quantification of mercury accumulation in humans was included in the Flem-ish biomonitoring programmes FLEHS I (20022006) and FLEHS II (20072011). The general objectiveof FLEHS I was to assess regional exposure levels in order to link possible differences in these internalexposure levels to different types of local environmental pressure. Therefore, Hg and MMHg (methylmer-cury) were only measured in pooled blood samples per region and per age class. In FLEHS II, mercuryconcentrations were measured in hair of each participant. About 200 adolescents and 250 mothers (ref-erence group) and two times 200 adolescents (2 hotspots) were screened. The main objectives of theFLEHS II study were: (1) to determine reference levels of mercury in hair for Flanders; (2) to assess rela-tions between mercury exposure and possible sources like fish consumption; (3) to assess doseeffectrelations between mercury exposure and health effect markers. The results showed that mercury con-centrations in the Flemish population were rather low compared to other studies. Mercury levels in theFlemish populations were strongly related to the age of the participants and consumption of fish. Signif-icant negative associations were observed between mercury in hair and asthma, having received breastfeeding as a newborn, age at menarche in girls, allergy for animals and free testosterone levels. Significantcorrelations were also observed between mercury in hair and genes JAK2, ARID4A, Hist1HA4L (boys) andHLAdrb5, PIAS2, MANN1B1, GIT and ABCA1 (girls).