Céline Pichery, Martine Bellanger, Denis Zmirou-Navier, Nadine Fréry, Sylvaine Cordier, Anne Roue-Legall, Philippe Hartemann and Philippe Grandjean
Environmental Health 2012, 11:53 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-11-53
Evidence of a dose-response relationship between prenatal exposure to methylmercury (MeHg) and neurodevelopmental consequences in terms of IQ reduction, makes it possible to evaluate the economic consequences of MeHg exposures.
To perform an economic evaluation of annual national benefits of reduction of the prenatal MeHg exposure in France.
We used data on hair-Hg concentrations in French women of childbearing age (18-45 years) from a national sample of 126 women and from two studies conducted in coastal regions (n = 161and n = 503). A linear dose response function with a slope of 0.465 IQ point reduction per mug/g increase in hair-Hg concentration was used, along with a log transformation of the exposure scale, where a doubling of exposure was associated with a loss of 1.5 IQ points. The costs calculations utilized an updated estimate of E2008 17,363 per IQ point decrement, with three hypothetical exposure cut-off points (hair-Hg of 0.58, 1.0, and 2.5 mug/g).
Because of higher exposure levels of women in coastal communities, the annual economic impacts based on these data were greater than those using the national data, i.e. E 1.62 billion (national), and E 3.02 billion and E 2.51 billion (regional), respectively, with the linear model, and E 5.46 billion (national), and E 9.13 billion and E 8.17 billion (regional), with the log model, for exposures above 0.58 mug/g.
These results emphasize that efforts to reduce MeHg exposures would have high social benefits by preventing the serious and lifelong consequences of neurodevelopmental deficits in children.