Mercury exposure assessment in Iranian pregnant women's hair with respect to diet, amalgam filling, and lactation

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2012 Sep;148(3):292-301. doi: 10.1007/s12011-012-9384-y. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Our aim for carrying out this study was to estimate the levels of mercury in the hair of pregnant women and its association with fish consumption and amalgam fillings. From November 2007 to January 2008, 100 hair samples were collected randomly from three groups of pregnant women: Ahvaz in the south of Iran, Noushahr in the north, and the countryside of Noushahr. Significant differences were found in these three groups of pregnant women's samples (p>0.05). The mean mercury level in women's hair was found to be 0.37 μg/g (range, 0.11-3.57 μg/g). Only in 2 % of collected hair samples did the total mercury (THg) level exceed the United States Environmental Protection Agency-recommended 1.0 μg/g. In addition, there was a positive correlation of THg content in Ahvaz group's samples with respect to fish consumption (r=0.41, p=0.02) and a negative correlation of THg content in those who consumed vegetables and fruit. The level of education also played an indicating factor in this group. Moreover, significant association was found between the residence time and Hg concentration of women's hair samples collected from Noushahr (p>0.05). Similarly, the same correlations were found between hair mercury levels and the time since the first filling, number of dental fillings, pregnancy interval, and lactating period.

MeSH terms

  • Dental Amalgam / toxicity*
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Pregnancy


  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury