Biomonitoring of mercury in hair of breastfeeding mothers living in the Valencian Region (Spain). Levels and predictors of exposure

Chemosphere. 2017 Nov:187:106-113. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.08.100. Epub 2017 Aug 20.


This study focused on the evaluation of the levels of total mercury in hair among 120 breastfeeding mothers aged 20 to 45 -. The concentrations of Hg ranged from 0.07 to 6.87 μg/g with a geometric mean (GM) of 1.22 μg/g. This GM is six times higher than the average internal exposure of mothers from other 17 European countries (0.225 μg/g). Near 70% of mothers presented levels of Hg above the USA EPA internal exposure guideline of 1 μg/g, and 27% exceeded the EFSA health-based guidance value of 1.9 μg/g. The multivariate regression analysis revealed that age, smoking and fish consumption (sword fish, small fat fish, small lean fish) were the major predictors of mercury in hair.

Keywords: Biomonitoring; Breastfeeding mothers; Hair; Mercury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Mercury / metabolism
  • Mothers
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood / analysis
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Spain
  • Young Adult


  • Mercury