S19 Socio-economic factors affecting mercury exposure and risk

Friday, 29 July, 2011

FS19-O1 — 8:30-8:45
Authors: BARBONE, Fabio1, VALENT, Francesca1, MAZEJ, Darja 2, TRATNIK, Janja 2, SPIRIC, Zdravko 3, PRPI?, Igor 4, SOFIANOU-KATSOULIS , Aikaterini5, NAKOU, Sheena5, LITTLE, D’Anna1, MARIUZ, Marika1, MIKLAV?I?, Ana2, NEUBAUER, David 6, ROSOLEN, Valentina1, PETROVIC, Oleg4, PARPINEL, Maria1, BIN, Maura7, TOGNIN, Veronica1, CARROZZI, Marco7, OSREDKAR, Josko6, HORVAT, Milena2
(1) DSMB, Udine University, Italy, fabio.barbone@uniud.it; (2) IJS, Ljubljana, Slovenia; (3) Oikon Ltd, Zagreb, Croatia; (4) Clinical Hospital Center Rijeka, Croatia; (5) Institute of Child Health, Athens, Greece; (6) University Clinical Center, Ljubljana, Slovenia; (7) I.R.C.C.S. Burlo Garofolo S.C.O. di Neuropsichiatria e Neurologia Pediatrica, Trieste, Italy;

The effects of prenatal mercury exposure through fish consumption on neurodevelopment have been studied in several populations. Yet, findings have been inconsistent, particularly when assessing the effects of exposure to low mercury levels. To assess the effect of low-level prenatal mercury exposure through fish consumption on neurodevelopment among residents in Mediterranean regions of Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece, we conducted a prospective cohort study within PHIME, a research project of EU Sixth Framework. Main exposures were total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) concentration in mother’s hair in pregnancy and in cord blood, and mother’s fish intake in pregnancy. Child’s neurodevelopmental outcomes were Bayley III composite cognitive, language, and motor scores at 18 months. Covariates included pregnancy history, socioeconomic status, child characteristics, breastfeeding, childcare, etc. Data were analyzed with multivariate linear regression. 2189 mothers were enrolled in the study during pregnancy. 1729 mother-child pairs provided information at child’s birth. Follow-up at 18 months was 85%. The distribution of mother’s hair THg (ng/g) was: mean 1023, median 729, 25pct 396, 75pct 1270, mean ratio MeHg/THg 0.90. Cord blood THg (ng/g) was: mean 5.39, median 3.75, 25pct 1.87, 75pct 6.87, mean ratio MeHg/THg 0.91. Spearman’s correlation between THg in hair and cord blood was: r=0.81, p<0.0001. Mother’s consumption of fish (weekly servings of 150g) was: mean 1.76, median 1.38, 25pct 0.92, 75pct 2.11. While unadjusted models showed a negative association of Bayley cognitive score with THg (in both hair and cord blood) and no association with fish consumption, after adjustment for country and relevant covariates, Bayley cognitive score was no longer associated with THg but positively associated with fish (b=0.8345, p=0.0162). Bayley language score was positively associated with fish consumption in both unadjusted and adjusted models but not associated with THg. Bayley motor score was negatively associated with THg only in unadjusted models. In conclusion, in models adjusted for country and other potential confounders, Hg in hair and cord blood did not decrease Bayley scores and a moderate but significant beneficial effect of fish consumption in pregnancy was observed for cognitive and language development. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) analyses in mother’s serum will evaluate whether the effect of fish is mediated by PUFAs contained.

FS19-O2 — 8:45-9:00
Authors: OESTREICHER, Jordan1, LUCOTTE, Marc1, DAVIDSON, Robert1, MERTENS, Frédérique2, ROMANA, Christina2, ROZON, Christine1, VALENTINI, Juliana2
(1) Université du Québec à Montréal, jsoestreicher@gmail.com; (2) ;

In the Tapajos River region of the Brazilian Amazon, deforestation and slash-and-burn agricultural practices are primary drivers of mercury mobilization from the tropical soils. Through erosion and lixiviation processes, the mercury is transported into the aquatic ecosystem where methylation and bio-magnification in the food chain results in exposure of fish-eating riparian populations. Yet, deforestation, agricultural and fishing practices are relied upon by subsistence farmers and fishers for livelihoods and well-being. Livelihood choices, such as how much land to deforest and cultivate, as well as how much fish to capture and consume, is driven by larger socio-economic forces. To illustrate the effects of these larger, indirect forces, we demonstrate that mercury mobilization and transport as well as human mercury exposure risks are linked to local and global market dynamics and public policies but also local cultural and social conditions. We present data on historical landscape change in the region, mercury deposition patterns in lacustrine sediments, as well as human mercury exposure levels to exemplify this case. Though the case expounded, we argue that mercury movement in the environment and human exposure can no longer be exclusively conceptualized in a linear source-exposure-response fashion that is used in (eco) toxicological research. Under dynamic and complex conditions such as in the Tapajos River region we observe that sources are multiple and shifting as are conditions linked to exposure. We argue for a systemic approach of the complex health and environmental problems related to mercury in the region. This approach allows underlying processes that drive deforestation and agricultural practices to be examined and seeks to understand the underlying socio-demographic and economic drivers of exposure risks.

FS19-O3 — 9:00-9:15
Authors: LIBERATI, Michael1, GUISEPPI-ELIE, Annette1, LEPLEY, Susannah2, KAIN, Don3
(1) DuPont Company, michael.r.liberati@usa.dupont.com; (2) James Madison University; (3) Virginia Department of Enivronmental Quality.

The discovery in the mid-1970’s of elevated mercury in fish tissue in the South River and South Fork Shenandoah Rivers in Virginia led to a fish consumption advisory affecting 140 river miles. The original mercury source is attributed to a manufacturing discharge that occurred between 1929 and 1950. The South River Science Team (SRST), a collaborative group which includes state and federal regulators, environmental groups, academics, and DuPont Company representatives, was established in 2000 to study the mercury issues and communicate findings to river stakeholders. The SRST has implemented many efforts to effectively communicate the fish consumption advisory to the English speaking populations who fish along the affected rivers. These efforts include postings at river access locations, distribution of information using a website, fact sheets, brochures, and newsletters, river-users surveys, public presentations, participation in fairs and festivals, and activities directed at school children. Many of these efforts include a Spanish translation of the information that is used to assist with the communication of the advisory. Since there is a growing Hispanic population in the area, recently, a more innovative approach has been taken to reach Spanish speaking individuals who may fish on the affected rivers and their families. These efforts are administered through a partnership between the SRST and James Madison University’s Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services which houses the Blue Ridge Area Health Education Promotores program. This program is a community health worker model that has been found to be an effective method of communicating health information to disadvantaged populations. The Promotores are locally recruited volunteer Hispanic/Latino’s that, after completion of required training, are used to educate the Spanish speaking community concerning the details of the mercury fish advisory and the potential adverse health effects of mercury consumption. The Promotores outreach efforts focus on individual contacts, small group meetings, and community-wide events. This paper will focus on methods used and lessons learned in achieving the desired outcome of the communication programs, which is to increase awareness within the English and Spanish speaking communities of the potential adverse effects of consuming mercury contaminated fish caught in the impacted rivers.

FS19-O4 — 9:15-9:30
Authors: MERTENS, Frédéric1, SAINT-CHARLES, Johanne2, PASSOS, Carlos José Sousa3, FILLION, Myriam4, LUCOTTE, Marc5, DAVIDSON, Robert6, MERGLER, Donna7
(1) Centro de Desenvolvimento Sustentável - Universidade de Brasília, fmertens@unb.br; (2) Département des Communications, Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la biologie, la santé, la société et l’environnement (CINBIOSE), Université du Québec à Montreal, member of the CIHR Team in Gender, Environment and Health; (3) Faculdade UnB Planaltina (FUP), Universidade de Brasília; (4) Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la biologie, la santé, la société et l’environnement (CINBIOSE), Université du Québec à Montreal; (5) Chaire de recherche en environnement-GEOTOP, Université du Québec à Montréal; (6) Biodome de Montréal, Institut des Sciences de l’Environnement, Université du Québec à Montréal; (7) Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la biologie, la santé, la société et l’environnement (CINBIOSE), Université du Québec à Montréal, member of the CIHR Team in Gender, Environment and Health.

The formulation and communication of fish advisories are highly complex because of the potential con?icts between the nutritional and toxicological issues associated with ?sh consumption. Participatory approaches, adapted to the socio-economical and cultural realities of vulnerable populations, may facilitate the communication processes regarding these complex issues and promote the adoption of long lasting healthy fish consumption behaviors. Villagers from Brasilia Legal, a small village located on the left shore of the Tapajós River in the Brazilian Amazon, are exposed to methylmercury through fish consumption. A participatory intervention based on dietary changes aimed at reducing methylmercury exposure while maintaining fish consumption was initiated in 1995. In the present study, we used social network analysis to investigate the evolution in the participatory processes associated to the building of solutions to reduce exposure. Data were collected at five different time points (1995, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006), regarding diet components associated to mercury exposure, hair mercury levels, awareness of critical information about mercury issues, adoption of new fish diet behavior and network partners regarding discussion on mercury and health. From 1995 to 2006, hair mercury levels decrease consistently in the population and most community members are engaged in discussion networks associated to increasing levels of awareness. However, two distinct phases emerge: 1. the intervention phase, before 2001, where many activities around mercury were carried out by the researchers and where mercury discussion is associated to adoption of the new fish diet behaviors in accordance with the messages generated in the participatory process and 2. the sustainability phase, from 2001 to 2006, with fewer research activities around mercury, where participation in mercury discussion network is associated to the process of continuous adaptation of the villagers to social and environmental regional changes and to the adoption of new and diverse solutions to maintain decrease in exposure. We discuss the contribution of community participation and communication networks to overcome the difficulties in generating complex messages that take into account both health benefits and risks of fish consumption and in promoting the adoption of adaptive and sustainable behaviors to reduce mercury exposure.

Friday, 29 July, 2011