John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Evaluation of mercury blood levels in newborns in the region of Azzaba (Algeria) Volume 16, issue 2, March-April 2017


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1 Laboratoire de toxicologie
Faculté de médecine de l’université d’Annaba
Route Zaafrania BP 205
23000 Annaba
2 Centre national de toxicologie d’Alger
Nouvel institut Pasteur
Dely Brahim
16000 Alger
* Tirés à part
  • Key words: mercury, woman parturient, umbilical cord, impregnation, environment
  • DOI : 10.1684/ers.2017.0972
  • Page(s) : 170-7
  • Published in: 2017

The Bou Ismail cinnabar (mercury sulfur) ore-processing complex was commissioned in 1970. It shut down in 2006 because its main mercury deposits were depleted, but it is responsible for environmental pollution in the area of Azzaba (eastern Algeria).

The aim of this study is to assess the mercury burden of newborns by assaying the total amount of mercury in their umbilical cord blood, by a survey conducted between September 1 and December 30, 2013, in the maternity units of the Azzaba State Hospital and the Constantine Obstetric and Gynecology Hospital and to determine whether living near a mercury-contaminated site generates a significant difference in mercury blood levels.

The study included 40 parturients living in the area of Azzaba for at least 5 years, within 35 km of the mercury complex, compared with a reference group of 40 parturients in the area of Constantine (70 km west of the mercury complex) for at least 5 years (and not originally from Azzaba).

Mercury levels in the umbilical cord differ significantly between the two groups (P<0.05). The mean blood mercury level for the Azzaba group was 2.32±3.09 (0.1-12) μg/100 mL, compared with 0.2±0.32 (0.01-0.90) μg/100 mL for the reference group from Constantine.