Korean adults have twice as much lead, mercury in bodies as youths: study


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South Korean adults have twice the level of harmful toxic chemicals in their bodies as youths, the Ministry of Environment said Wednesday, citing a state laboratory’s research.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Research’s study on 6,167 South Korean people from 2015 to 2017, the blood lead level for adults averaged 1.60 micrograms per deciliter of blood (ug/dL), compared with a corresponding figure of 0.80 ug/dL for middle and high school students.

Ministry of Environment (Yonhap)

The blood mercury levels for young students and adults also stood at 1.37 ug/dL and 2.75 ug/dL, respectively, the ministry and the institute said.

The latest body toxin research, the third of its kind in the nation, was conducted on blood and urine samples collected from 3,787 adults, 922 middle and high school students, 887 elementary school students, and 571 children and infants.

Contrary to two previous research projects done in 2009-2011 and 2012-2014, children older than 3 and youths younger than 18 were included in the latest body toxin study.

The lead and mercury levels in the body of adults were lower than in the first and second research project.

Cadmium levels in urine were higher in older people, with infants and children registering 0.11 ug/dL, elementary school students 0.23 ug/dL, middle and high school students 0.29 ug/dL, and adults 0.36 ug/dL, they said.

By contrast, the blood levels of phthalate, a chemical added to plastics to increase their flexibility, were higher in younger people, with 23.7 ug/dL for adults, 60.7 ug/dL for infants and children, 48.7 ug/dL for elementary students, and 23.4 ug/dL for middle and high school students.

“The average phthalate concentration for all ages is lower than the recommended level,” an institute official said.

The levels of bisphenol-A, known as an endocrine disruptor, were also higher in younger people, but its average concentration for all ages was far below the recommendation level, it noted. (Yonhap)


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