Mey Akashah (2011), Fish Consumption, Mercury Intake, and the Associated Risks to the Kuwaiti Population, Harvard School of Public Health.
Mey Akashah's doctoral dissertation, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health.
This dissertation addresses health risks factors associated with mercury (Hg) intake as a consequence of fish consumption among the Kuwaiti population. Hg is an established neurotoxin, and some studies have shown that it may also cause atherosclerotic lesions in blood vessels, leading to cardiovascular disease. For both of these reasons, it is important to gain a comprehensive understanding of the levels of fish consumed by the Kuwait population, the levels of mercury in fish consumed, as well as the physiological factors that influence uptake of Hg in the body. The three papers in this dissertation address each of these areas, individually.
In “Fish Consumption among Kuwaiti Nationals,” we assess the consumption patterns of the Kuwait population, including the types of fish that are consumed, the frequency with which they are consumed, and the average quantity of consumption among various age, sex, and ethnicity groups. In “Human Health Risks from Mercury in Fish,” we investigate the potential health effects to the Kuwaiti population as a results of current levels of fish consumption. In “Fish Consumption as a Determinant of Hair Mercury Levels among Kuwaiti Nationals,” we relate this consumption information to overall body burden of mercury for the purpose of better characterizing the relationship between intake of fish and corresponding hair Hg levels.
The order of papers in this dissertation is determined by the chronology of their conception. It should be noted that the third paper, “Fish Consumption as a Determinant of Hair Mercury Levels among Kuwaiti Nationals” indicates several changes should be made to “Human Health Risks from Mercury in Fish” risk assessment. This is primarily due to our treatment of fish with unknown Hg. In “Fish Consumption as a Determinant of Hair Mercury Levels among Kuwaiti Nationals,” we ultimately dropped from the analysis of the effect of fish consumption on body burden of mercury any and all fish with unknown Hg concentrations. “Human Health Risks from Mercury in Fish” was completed before this paper and instead extrapolated these values for fish or, as in the case of tuna, took as a proxy US and Canadian test values for Hg in fish. Subsequently, we decided that this was not an ideal approach.
It is hoped that these studies will inform future work in the areas of risk reduction and risk management, such that more accurate risk assessments may be undertaken in the future.