Risk of Mercury Exposure During Childhood: A Review of Sri Lankan Situation


Sri Lanka had ratified the Minamata convention in the year 2017 and is planning to phase out Mercury by 2020. Mercury thermometers and compact fluorescent light bulbs are abundant at hospitals, households and schools. Limitations in safe disposal and containment mechanisms have enhanced the unregulated e-waste collection and extraction. Sri Lanka has plentiful lagoons, fishing bays, and inland irrigation systems. Fish consumption is high, especially around the coastal belt. Mercury can bioaccumulate in humans by the consumption of fish from contaminated sources. Children are at risk of exposure in their living environments and via food. A multicountry study done across three oceans on Mercury threat to women & children revealed, lagoon pollution from industrial Mercury emissions in Sri Lanka, possessing high Mercury among local females who consume fish from that lagoon. The mean hair Mercury level in coastal areas with high fish consumption exceeded the reference dose even among children. Aquatic life and crop studies revealed a mixed picture of Mercury levels which some are lower and some are higher than the permissible levels. Studies on environmental Mercury levels and correlations with health effects among children will help to fill the data gap. Public awareness of the health effects of Mercury and mechanisms of Mercury disposal should be established.

Authors: Himan K A Galappaththi, Inoka Suraweera
; Full Source: Reviews on environmental health 2020 Jul 3;/j/reveh.ahead-of-print/reveh-2020-0024/reveh-2020-0024.xml. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2020-0024.