Methylmercury accumulation in rice (Oryza sativa L.) grown at abandoned mercury mines in Guizhou, China

J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Apr 9;56(7):2465-8. doi: 10.1021/jf073391a. Epub 2008 Mar 5.


Mercury is a global pollutant that can transform into methylmercury, a highly toxic and bioaccumulative organic form. Previous surveys have shown that fish is the main source of human methylmercury exposure, whereas most other food products have an average value below 20 microg/kg and primarily in the inorganic form. This paper reports that methylmercury in rice (Oryza sativa L.) grown at abandoned mercury mining areas contained levels >100 microg/kg in its edible portion and proved to be 10-100 times higher than other crop plants. The daily adult intake of methylmercury through rice consumption causes abnormally high methylmercury exposure to humans. The results demonstrate that rice is a methylmercury bioaccumulative plant and the main methylmercury source for human exposure in the areas studied.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Humans
  • Mercury*
  • Methylmercury Compounds / analysis*
  • Methylmercury Compounds / metabolism
  • Mining*
  • Oryza / chemistry*
  • Oryza / growth & development*
  • Oryza / metabolism
  • Seeds / chemistry


  • Methylmercury Compounds
  • Mercury