Mercury, Dolphins, Fish Consumption and Human Health

Adam Schaefer, Brian Cousin and Carin Smith, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University
Mercury is a pollutant with important adverse health effects on both humans and wildlife.The high mercury concentrations found in dolphins may reflect environmental differences in mercury contamination which can impact the concentration of mercury found in fish species that local human populations consume. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine exposure to mercury among coastal residents. Concentrations of mercury among Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in a coastal estuary in Florida, alerted us to a potential public health hazard. Individuals who reported consuming local seafood once a day or more were 4 times more likely to have a mercury concentration over the EPA reference dose. The current study is one of the first to apply the concept of a sentinel animal to a local human population.
Original Publication
Schaefer, A., Jensen, E., Bossart, G., and Reif, J. 2014. Hair Mercury Concentrations and Fish Consumption Patterns in Florida Residents. IJERPH: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(7).

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