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Association between early methylmercury exposure and functional health among residents of the Shiranui Sea communities in Japan

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The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of estimated historical methylmercury exposure on the functional health of residents living in the Shiranui Sea communities in Japan. Functional health was measured by self-reported activities of daily living (ADL). Study areas were categorized into high, medium and low methylmercury exposure areas according to their location or distance from the Shiranui Sea. We estimated the adjusted prevalence odds ratios of impaired ADL in relation to exposure using a logistic regression model. Compared with residents in the low-exposure area, residents in the high-exposure area were significantly associated with a higher prevalence odds ratio (OR) for impaired ADL after adjustment for confounding factors (adjusted ORs = 2.8, 95% CI: 1.3–6.2). These results showed strong dose-response relationships (p for trend = 0.0050). Our findings suggest that historical methylmercury exposure might cause functional impairment in later in life depending on the exposure level.
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Keywords: Minamata disease; Shiranui Study; activities of daily living; aging; methylmercury

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Public Health,Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan 2: School of Sociology, Chukyo University, Toyota, Japan 3: Department of Clinical Trial, Design & Management,Translational Research Center, Kyoto University Hospital, Kyoto, Japan 4: Graduate School of Practitioners in Education, Aichi University of Education, Kariya, Japan 5: School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Science, Kumamoto Health Science University, Kumamoto, Japan 6: Environmental Health Sciences Division, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Integrated Health Risk Assessment Section, Tsukuba, Japan 7: Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine,Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan 8: Faculty of Literature, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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