Mercury exposure and malaria prevalence among gold miners in Pará, Brazil

Ellen K. Silbergeld, Denis Nash, Circey Trevant, G. Thomas Strickland, Jose Maria De Souza, Rui S.U. Da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Economic development, including resource extraction, can cause toxic exposures that interact with endemic infectious diseases. Mercury is an immunotoxic metal used in the amalgamation of gold, resulting in both occupational exposures and environmental pollution. A cross-sectional medical survey was conducted in 1997 on 135 garimpeiros in Para, Brazil, because of their risks of both mercury exposure and malaria transmission. Mean levels of blood and urine mercury were well above non-exposed background levels. Twenty-six subjects had malaria parasitemia: Health symptoms consistent with mercury exposure were reported, but neither symptoms nor signs correlated with mercury levels in blood or urine. We did not find a dose response relationship between mercury exposure and likelihood of prevalent malaria infection, but there was a possible reduction in acquisition of immunity that may be associated with conditions in gold mining, including mercury exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-429
Number of pages9
JournalRevista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical
Volume35
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

Keywords

  • Garimpagem
  • Malaria
  • Mercury
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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