Assessment of mercury exposure and malaria in a Brazilian Amazon riverine community

Peter Crompton, Ana Maria Ventura, Jose Maria De Souza, Elisabeth Santos, G. Thomas Strickland, Ellen Silbergeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Small-scale gold mining in the Brazilian Amazon occurs in areas with high rates of malaria transmission. Amazonian populations can be exposed to mercury through direct contact with the mining process and/or through fish consumption. Because of data from experimental studies, we examined the potential for mercury to affect host response to malaria. A cross-sectional survey was done in Jacareacanga, a riverine community in Para state, in a region of intense alluvial gold mining. A sample of 205 persons was selected by cluster sampling from the total population of approximately 2000. A brief medical history and exam were conducted, malaria slides were obtained, and hair samples were taken to measure mercury levels. The average hair mercury level was 8.6μ/g, ranging from 0.3 to 83.2 pg/g. The most important predictors of elevated mercury levels were high fish consumption and low income. Although there was no prevalent malaria, the odds of reporting a past malaria infection was four times higher for those also reporting a history of working with mercury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Amazon
  • Brazil
  • Gold mining
  • Immunity
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Malaria
  • Mercury
  • Resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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