Hair mercury levels in different occupational groups in Southern Bolivar (Columbia)

Hair mercury analysis was carried out on a sample of 219 people living in the main gold mining zone of Colombia, 27 inhabitante of Cartagena City being taken as control sample. For data analysis the sample was divided by occupation and the corresponding the hair mercury concentrations (mean ± SD) were found to be 5.23 ± 5.78, 2.83 ± 3.27, 2.4 ± 2.02 and 1.33 ±0.74 µg/g for fishermen, miners, people of various other activities and the control sample, respectively. According to variance analysis and the Newman Keuls test, there were significant differences (p<0.01) between the mercury concentrations for fishermen and those for the other groups. No significant differences were found for hair mercury and sex, non was any correlation with age detected; however, a low positive correlation (R=0.15, p<0.01) with the frequency of the consumption of fish was noted. The main symptons of mercury poinsoning observed in the persons exposed were headache, oral lesions, metalic taste, loss of memory, and irritability.

Hair; Mercury; Mining

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