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Study finds Caribbean-American women at higher risk for elevated mercury levels
Date:2/17/2012

ome study subjects were still not at levels that are known to be associated with adverse health or developmental effects. However, she notes that the study indicates a need for further study and mercury-exposure prevention efforts tailored to this group, and that subjects were contacted and offered further testing. Furthermore, efforts should target health care providers, health agencies, and community advocates who provide avenues of education for women of childbearing age concerning appropriate dietary fish selection, and potential sources of mercury in the home. Dr. Geer points out that the new widespread use of fluorescent light bulbs, which contain a small amount of inorganic mercury and may expose people when they break, as well as the possibility of exposure from discarded computer equipment, are two current but little recognized sources.

Dr. Geer said, "Our study shows that women of Caribbean origin are at high risk for mercury exposure, owing to the consumption of specific types of fish and other factors. Since mercury can harm a child's development both in and beyond the womb, mercury should be kept at the lowest possible levels. Community education efforts should target Caribbean-American women to accomplish this."

Dr. Geer, assisted by Fay Callejo, MPH, from the School of Public Health, is in the process of completing a follow-up study to identify educational strategies to facilitate community awareness of mercury exposure sources, particularly for women of childbearing age.

Dr. Geer recommends that people familiarize themselves with how to protect their children and their homes from mercury exposure. As suggested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), five things they can do include:

Learn how to enjoy a diet that includes fish while minimizing exposure to fish species that have high mercury levels.

Learn which products are likely to contain mercury. Avoid use of mercury-containing skin-
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Contact: Ron Najman
ron.najman@downstate.edu
718-270-2696
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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