Applicability of human hair as a bioindicator for environmental mercury pollution

UT Research Journal. Natural Resource Use and Ecology


Bulletin of Tyumen State University. Ecology (№12). 2013

Applicability of human hair as a bioindicator for environmental mercury pollution

Author: Yuriy G. Tatsiy

About the author:

Yuriy G. Tatsiy, Dr. Tech. Sci., Senior Scientific Researcher, Laboratory of Evolution Biogeochemistry and Geoecology, Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, named after V.I. Vernadskiy, Russian Academy of Sciences


The hair analysis for trace elements has become widespread in recent years. It has proved to be very convenient and useful for assessment of health status and environment influence. Content of heavy metals (including mercury) in human hair is an indicator of possible intoxication and environmental pollution degree.The advantages and disadvantages of mercury determination in hair in comparison with other bioindicators (blood and urine) are considered. The ways of input of different mercury species into the human body and peculiarities of their accumulation in hair are shown. Endogenous and exogenous mercury is reviewed, as well as the possibility of receiving inaccurate results in case of strong environmental pollution (exogenous mercury) at the assessment of human body intoxication degree. Admissible levels of mercury content proposed by various international organizations are described. The U.S. EPA reference dose (RfD) of mercury content in hair is critically evaluated. Range of mercury concentrations in hair is given.


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