Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública (2015-09-01)

Developmental neurotoxicity: methylmercury and prenatal exposure protection in the context of the Minamata Convention

  • Ana Boischio

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 38, no. 3
pp. 243 – 247


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Mercury is a global pollutant of public environmental health concern due to its long-range atmospheric distribution, environmental distribution, and neurotoxic effects. Following biological methylation, methylmercury (MeHg) can be un-evenly bioaccumulated within aquatic food chains. Fish consumption can be a significant route of human exposure to MeHg. MeHg exposure in the prenatal stage, at relatively low levels, has recently been established as harmful during neurological development, potentially leading to intellectual disability. The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global agreement, currently under ratification, to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. The resolution regarding the role of the World Health Organization and ministries of health in the implementation of the Convention includes protection of human health from critical exposures to MeHg. Riverside populations living in areas with artisanal small-scale gold mining, and relying heavily on fish consumption, have been identified as the most vulnerable population in terms of MeHg exposure and developmental neurotoxicity. This article focuses on the proper design and dissemination of fish advisories within the context of implementation of the Convention.