AbstractsEarth & Environmental Science

Human Exposure from Mercury in Rice in the Philippines

by Elin Abrahamsson

Institution: Uppsala University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Natural Sciences; Earth and Related Environmental Sciences; Environmental Sciences; Naturvetenskap; Geovetenskap och miljövetenskap; Miljövetenskap; Master Programme in Environmental and Water Engineering; Civilingenjörsprogrammet i miljö- och vattenteknik
Record ID: 1357895
Full text PDF: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-253019


In the western part of the Philippines, in the Palawan province, studies have shown that large quantities of mercury are spread to the surrounding area during heavy rainfall. In addition, mercury is spread to rice fields and bioaccumulated in marine fish and seafood. The mercury originates from the abandoned Palawan Quicksilver Mine. Since mercury is toxic for the human body and new studies have shown that mercury accumulates in rice, it is important to investigate human exposure from mercury in rice. This project investigates the total amount of mercury and methylmercury (MeHg) accumulated in rice, soil and water from four different rice fields in Palawan. The soil samples have been taken directly from the fields and water samples have been taken from nearby streams and springs. Rice grains harvested earlier this year from the same fields have been collected from farmers. The soil, water and rice samples were analyzed in Manila and rice samples were as well analyzed in Sweden and China. Furthermore, this project contains a dietary survey and calculation of daily exposure values of MeHg. The survey investigates how often people eat fish and rice and if they have dental amalgam. It also investigates possible health problems related to mercury exposure from rice and fish consumption. The analyses from China show that rice samples from all barangays contain total mercury and MeHg. Analyses from Sweden also show that rice from the barangays contains total mercury but the levels were found to be higher than the ones analyzed in China. Furthermore, the health problems found in the diet survey were hard to relate to mercury exposure from rice since the health problems can be caused by other factors. When calculating daily exposure values, the values were found to be as high as the recommended maximum acceptable daily intake in one of the barangays. There might therefore be a risk of eating rice from these four barangays. It is important to consider that these daily exposure values were only based on MeHg exposure from rice consumption, not taking dental amalgam and fish consumption into consideration. This means that the daily exposure values might be even higher than the ones calculated in this study.