Food safety

Guidance for Identifying Populations at Risk from Mercury Exposure

Mercury is a toxic, persistent pollutant that biomagnifies through food webs. People are exposed to methylmercury mainly through their diet, especially through the consumption of mainly predatory fish and, in some cases, marine mammals that consumption fish. People may also be exposed to elemental or inorganic mercury through inhalation of ambient air during occupational activities where mercury or mercury compounds are produced, used in processes or incorporated in products.

WHO together with UNEP has prepared a guidance document entitled "Identifying Populations at Risk from Mercury Exposure". The document is intended to assist countries concerned about the potential national impacts of mercury pollution to identify specific populations or subpopulations that may be at risk. It aims to provide guidance on estimating exposures to mercury through biomonitoring as well as exposures to methylmercury using data on dietary fish intake. It gives an overview of mercury toxicity, exposure pathways, health and environmental impacts, as well as available reference levels.

Related links