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Abstract  

In the present work, determination of mercury in the head hair of populational groups living near a heavily industrialized region in São Paulo and of Indians living in the Xingu park in the Amazonic region, was carried out by instrumental neutron activation analysis. A control group of people with no suspicion of contamination by mercury was also studied. The range of mercury concentrations found up to now were: for the control group from 0.26 to 02.5 ppm; for the Indians from 6.9 to 34 ppm, and for the industrialized region inhabitants: from 0.30 to 3.0 ppm.

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Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Authors: M. Vasconcellos, P. Bode, G. Paletti, M. Catharino, A. Ammerlaan, M. Saiki, D. Fávaro, A. Byrne, R. Baruzzi, and D. Rodrigues

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 (T 1/2 = 17.45 s). The correlations between selenium and mercury concentrations in Brazilian controls and in the Indian population groups are discussed.

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