Paris, 22 september 2016

Tracking down the origin of mercury contamination in human hair

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin present in our daily lives and our body can accumulate it over the years. Food consumption, such as fish and rice, is the most common source of mercury exposure. Mercury can be found in dental amalgams, compact fluorescence lamps, vaccines, drugs, and electronics or can be used in artisanal gold mining. Finding the source of mercury contamination in our bodies is crucial for treatment and forensic investigations, but at present knowledge of the molecular form of mercury in human tissues and fluids, which could indicate source, is limited. However, an international team from the CNRS, the the Universities of Grenoble Alpes, Bordeaux and Franche-Comté, France, France, the ESRF, the European synchrotron in Grenoble, France and the University of Illinois at Chicago, US, has developed new analytical capabilities that allow the identification of chemical forms of mercury in human hair that trace exposure. These results are published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Download the press release PR mercury


Manceau A., Enescu M., Simionovici A., Lanson M., Gonzalez-Rey M., Rovezzi M., Tucoulou R., Glatzel P., Nagy K.L., Bourdineaud J.P. (2016) Chemical forms of mercury in human hair reveal sources of exposure. Environmental Science & Technology. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03468


Media contacts :
Priscilla Dacher, CNRS press office :,
+33 (0)1 44 96 46 06

Delphine Chenevier, Head of communications, ESRF :,
+33 (0)6 07 16 18 79 – +33 (0)4 76 88 26 04

Scientists contacts:
Alain Manceau, Director of Research at the CNRS, France:,
+33 (0)4 76 63 51 93
Jean-Paul Bourdineaud, professor, University of Bordeaux, France:
Kathryn Nagy, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago:


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