Mercury (Hg) contamination of environment is a major threat to human health. Human populations, particularly children, are continuously exposed to Hg contamination via dust particles in arid and semi-arid countries like Pakistan. However, a country wide Hg contamination data for dust particles is lacking for developing countries like Pakistan and hence, human populations potentially at risk is largely unknown. In our new article “Mercury contamination in deposited dust and its bioaccumulation patterns throughout Pakistan”, we provide the first baseline data for total mercury (THg) contamination into dust particles and its bioaccumulation trends, using scalp human hair samples as biomarker, at 22 sites across five altitudinal zones of Pakistan. The human health risk of THg exposure via dust particles as well as the proportion of human population that are potentially at risk from Hg contamination were calculated.
Total Mercury (THg) concentration levels in dust particles and cumulative hazard index (HI) at the sampling sites across five studied zones of Pakistan. Population density of Pakistan is presented on the background. The figure is adopted from the article.
Our results indicated higher concentration of THg in dust particles and its bioaccumulation in the lower Indus-plain agricultural and industrial areas than the other areas of Pakistan. The highest THg contamination of dust particles and its bioaccumulation were observed for the Lahore district, while the highest proportion (N 40%) of human population was identified to be potentially at risk from Hg contamination from these areas. In general, children were at higher risk of Hg exposure via dust particles than adults. Anthropogenic activities, such as industrial and hospital discharges, were identified as the major source of Hg contamination of dust particles. Our results inform environmental management for Hg control and remediation as well as the disease mitigation on potential hot spots.
The article can be freely accessed from here until 19 August 2016 and attached below for readers.
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