Consumption of seafood and wildgame contaminated with mercury, Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia
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Consumption of seafood and wildgame contaminated with mercury, Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia

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      Seafood sampling results from the Turtle River and its tributaries in Glynn County, Georgia raised concerns that the consumption of mercury-contaminated seafood and wildgame from these areas could result in adverse health effects. Seafood from Purvis Creek, Gibson Creek, and the Turtle River between Georgia Highway 303 and channel marker 9 had the highest levels of mercury contamination based on data from Georgia Department of Natural Resources fish sampling surveys. This community-based study compared residents who may have been exposed to mercury by consuming seafood and wildgame from these waters (target group) to residents who reported that they had not consumed seafood and wildgame from these waters (comparison group).

      The objectives of this study were: 1) to compare the prevalence of self-reported symptoms and illnesses between target and comparison group participants; 2) to determine seafood and wildgame consumption levels among study participants and assess the accuracy of these self-reported consumption levels; 3) to provide a basis for developing sound recommendations for seafood consumption advisories to the community; and 4) to assess individuals for evidence of mercury exposure using biological evidence (24-hour urine creatinine clearance test).

      Results from this study indicate a higher potential exposure of the target group to mercury contaminated seafood and wildgame. Urine mercury concentrations, however, were below the reference level in all study participants. There were statistically significant differences in several self reported neurological symptoms between the two groups. Some differences were found between the two groups in self-reported illnesses, but none were statistically significant.

      Analysis of the data showed that study participants generally under-estimated their amount of seafood consumption on the interviewer-administered questionnaire when compared to the amount they reported actually consuming as measured by the two-week dietary diary. Despite this finding, seafood comprised a smaller proportion of protein in study participants' diet than anticipated.


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