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Queen's University


Estelle D'Souza '08


Contact information:
Office: Biosciences Complex,  Room 2112b
Phone: 613.533.6000 ext. 78576

Educational Background:
BSc (Honours), University of Toronto

Queen's MES

Toronto - Doctor or Naturopathy

Thesis title:
Mercury in sub-Saharan Africa: Who are the Vulnerable?

Research Topic/Project description:
The ubiquitous and persistent nature of mercury (Hg) has warranted global concern due to its well known detrimental effects on human and ecosystem health. Inorganic Hg concentrates in the marine environment where it can be transformed and bioaccumulate in top predatory fish as methylmercury (MeHg), the most toxic form of Hg. Studies of developing nations indicate however, that high concentrations of Hg in humans cannot be explained by fish consumption alone. While most developed nations are currently regulating the anthropogenic release of Hg based on a known Estimated Daily Intake (EDI), the greatest sources of Hg exposure in sub-Saharan Africa are yet unknown, thus impeding this regulatory process.

Several studies have revealed human exposure routes that may be unique to sub-Saharan Africa. Skin lightening beauty products, which contain divalent mercury compounds, traditional cultural and medical practices using elemental Hg, and soil geophagy (soil consumption) have been documented within the region, however limited quantitative data exists. As such, this review will attempt to determine the baseline concentrations of environmental and anthropogenic Hg exposure in sub-Saharan Africa. Existing data from published and unpublished journal articles, government documents, and NGOs in this region will be utilized for this assessment. The overarching goal of this review is to establish the populations in sub-Saharan Africa at greatest risk of Hg exposure so that intervention and prevention programs may improve population health in this impoverished region of the world.

Dr. Linda Campbell, Dr. Kristan Aronson, Dr. Allison Goebel

Research Interests:
Environmental and human health; population and community health

Member of the Internal Academic Review team for the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology; volunteer at Hotel Dieu Hospital,Cardiac Rehabilitation; volunteer with the Women's Healthy Environment Network (WHEN)

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Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000