Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mercury Levels and Cognitive Function Investigated in Adults

20.04.2005


Although the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are well known for their health benefits, many fish are also the primary source of mercury in the general population. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently completed the first study of mercury and cognitive function in urban, U.S. adults between the ages of 50 and 70 years. They found that blood mercury levels were not consistently associated with adverse performance on a broad range of tests of cognitive function. This study may help policy makers with future decisions about mercury emissions from power plants as well as fish consumption recommendations for older adults. The study is published in the April 20, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).



“Our study provides no evidence to challenge the government’s current recommendations for blood mercury levels, but neither does it indicate that they are safe. The key point is that the aging population may be more sensitive to toxic chemicals and this is the first study to examine mercury exposure in the older U.S. population,” said Megan Weil, MHS, lead author of the study and a PhD-candidate in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

Weil explained that the Environmental Protection Agency bases its recommendations on studies of children and women of childbearing age. From these studies, they determined that blood mercury levels should not exceed 5.8 µg/L. The median mercury level in study participants was 2.1 µg/L and only approximately 10 percent of subjects exceeded the government guideline.


The researchers analyzed the blood samples of 474 study participants, who were part of the larger Baltimore Memory Study. They also administered 12 cognitive function tests, which measured language, memory, attention, concentration, reaction time and other brain functions. The study authors found that higher blood mercury levels were associated with poorer performance on a memory test that measured the ability to recall a complex, two-dimensional line drawing. However, they saw improved performance on tests measuring motor speed, eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity. Because most of the large number of tests showed no correlation with mercury and there was a lack of consistency of mercury effects in the different aspects of brain function, the researchers concluded that overall the data did not provide strong evidence that mercury at these levels had an adverse impact on cognitive function.

“Mercury is a major global public health challenge. Global emissions will continue to increase for the foreseeable future and mercury released in one area can reach people at very great distances. Studies of this type are critical to the development of effective regulatory policies,” said Brian Schwartz, MD, senior author of the study and a professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Additional co-authors of the study were Joseph Bressler, PhD, Patrick Parsons, PhD, Karen Bolla, PhD, and Thomas Glass, PhD.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.

Kenna Lowe | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhsph.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>