Evaluation of the cardiovascular effects of methylmercury exposures: Current evidence supports development of a dose-response function for regulatory benefits analysis

Henry A. Roman, Tyra L. Walsh, Brent A. Coull, Éric Dewailly, Eliseo Guallar, Dale Hattis, Koenraad Mariën, Joel Schwartz, Alan H. Stern, Jyrki K. Virtanen, Glenn Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has estimated the neurological benefits of reductions in prenatal methylmercury (MeHg) exposure in past assessments of rules controlling mercury (Hg) emissions. A growing body of evidence suggests that MeHg exposure can also lead to increased risks of adverse cardiovascular impacts in exposed populations. Data extraction: The U.S. EPA assembled the authors of this article to participate in a workshop, where we reviewed the current science concerning cardiovascular health effects of MeHg exposure via fish and seafood consumption and provided recommendations concerning whether cardiovascular health effects should be included in future Hg regulatory impact analyses. Data synthesis: We found the body of evidence exploring the link between MeHg and acute myocardial infarction (MI) to be sufficiently strong to support its inclusion in future benefits analyses, based both on direct epidemiological evidence of an MeHg-MI link and on MeHg's association with intermediary impacts that contribute to MI risk. Although additional research in this area would be beneficial to further clarify key characteristics of this relationship and the biological mechanisms that underlie it, we consider the current epidemiological literature sufficiently robust to support the development of a dose-response function. Conclusions: We recommend the development of a dose-response function relating MeHg exposures with MIs for use in regulatory benefits analyses of future rules targeting Hg air emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-614
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011



  • Cardiovascular
  • Dose-response function
  • Health impact analysis
  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Myocardial infarction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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