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  • 1 IPEN/CNEN-SP Radiochemistry Division P.O. Box 11049 CEP 05422-970 São Paulo Brazil
  • 2 Delft University of Technology Interfaculty Reactor Institute Delft The Netherlands
  • 3 IPEN/CNEN-SP Radiochemistry Division P.O. Box 11049 CEP 05422-970 São Paulo Brazil
  • 4 Jozef Stefan Institute Department of Environmental Sciences Ljubljana Slovenia
  • 5 UNIFESP Department of Preventive Medicine São Paulo Brazil
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Abstract  

Biomonitoring of mercury contamination of Brazilian Indian population groups living in the Xingu Park, a reservation situated in the Amazonic region, has revealed very high levels of mercury in hair samples as compared to controls. Total mercury was determined by INAA in most of the tribes living in the Park and methylmercury was determined by CVAAS in samples with total mercury above 10 mg/kg. Due to the fact that selenium seems to protect animals against the toxic effects of methylmercury, it was considered also of interest to determine its concentrations in the hair samples with very high mercury levels. Selenium was determined by INAA via the short-lived radionuclide 77mSe (T1/2 = 17.45 s). The correlations between selenium and mercury concentrations in Brazilian controls and in the Indian population groups are discussed.