Methylmercury and inorganic mercury in Chinese commercial rice: Implications for overestimated human exposure and health risk
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEnvironmental Pollution (1987). 2020, 258, 113706. 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113706
China is the largest rice producer and consumer in the world, and mercury (Hg) levels, particularly methylmercury (MeHg), in rice and health exposure risks are public concerns. Total Hg (THg) and MeHg levels in 767 (domestic = 709 and abroad = 58) Chinese commercial rice were investigated to evaluate Hg pollution level, dietary exposures and risks of IHg and MeHg. The mean rice THg and MeHg levels were 3.97 ± 2.33 μg/kg and 1.37 ± 1.18 μg/kg, respectively. The highest daily intake of MeHg and IHg were obtained in younger groups, accounted for 6% of the reference dose-0.1 μg/kg bw/day for MeHg, 0.3% of the provisional tolerance week intake-0.571 μg/kg bw/day for IHg. Residents in Central China and Southern China meet the highest rice Hg exposure, which were more than 7 times of those in Northwest China. Lower concentrations than earlier studies were observed along the implementations of strict policies since 2007. This may indicate that a declining temporal trend of Hg in Chinese grown rice and associated exposures could be obtained with the implementations of strict policies. Though there exist Hg pollution in commercial rice, Hg levels in Chinese commercial rice is generally safe compared with Hg polluted sites. Populations dwelling in China have relatively a quite low and safe MeHg and IHg exposure via the intake of commercial rice. Strict policies contributed to the decrease in THg and MeHg levels in Chinese-grown rice. More attention should be paid to younger groups.