Guidance for Identifying Populations at Risk from Mercury Exposure, August 2008


This “Guidance for Identifying Populations at Risk from Mercury Exposure” is intended to assist countries concerned about the potential impacts of mercury pollution on their population in identifying 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. It also provides an overview of assessment of mercury exposures for some specific exposure scenarios, including “hot spot” exposures. In addition, this document can be used as reference for conducting research or investigations regarding mercury exposure.

All relevant reports and monographs of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) were taken into account in the development of this guidance document as part of international recommendations on mercury and methylmercury in fish and other food. Hence, this document is being issued jointly by UNEP and WHO in cooperation with FAO.

UNEP and WHO made every effort possible to incorporate, where appropriate, comments to the draft versions which were received from governments and interested stakeholders. The document is now available here (word and pdf versions).