Mercury levels in women and children from interior villages in Suriname, South America

Academic Article


  • Natural sources of mercury, historical gold mining, and contemporary artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) activities have led to mercury contamination in Suriname. Our primary objective was to evaluate mercury levels in hair of women and children from interior villages in Suriname where mercury levels in fish are elevated. We also estimated blood levels of mercury using an established mathematical conversion to facilitate comparison with other biomonitoring programs in the United States. Estimated levels of mercury in the blood of participants from Suriname were significantly higher than those in women from a heavy marine fish-consuming population in southeast Louisiana and estimates of the US national average. This includes women from Surinamese villages well upstream of ASGM activities. Since residents in these areas rely heavily on local fish, this is likely the source of their exposure to mercury. The levels in hair are similar to those seen in women from longitudinal studies finding neurological impairments in children exposed pre- and postnatally. Additional biomonitoring and neurodevelopmental assessments are warranted in these areas, as well as other areas of the Suriname. Mercury levels in hair (Suriname) and blood (southeast LA USA) were determined using cold vapor atomic absorption spectroscopy (CVAAS).
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 18162992
  • Author List

  • Ouboter PE; Landburg G; Satnarain GU; Starke SY; Nanden I; Simon-Friedt B; Hawkins WB; Taylor R; Lichtveld MY; Harville E
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 5