Scientists from the Beijing Synchrotron Radiation Facility (BSRF) and Multi-disciplinary Research
Center at IHEP discovered that the disappearance of the 4.5 nm reflection can be used as a bio-indicator of overdose Hg contamination to the human body. The research results were published on Environmental Science & Technology (DOI: 10.1021/es402335k).
Human hair used as indicator of overdose Hg contamination to the human body
Mercury (Hg) is one of the most hazardous pollutants in the global environment, which can cause brain, kidney, and neurological damage. In the paper, the structural change of human hair induced by mercury exposure was studied. Human hair samples were, respectively, collected from the normal Beijing area and the Hg-contaminated Wanshan area of the Guizhou Province, China. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy was used to detect the element contents.
A small angle X-ray scattering technique at BSRF was used to probe the structural change. The disappearance of the 4.5 nm reflection can be used as a bioindicator of overdose Hg contamination to the human body. A supercoiled-coil model of hair nanoscale structure and a possible mechanism of mercury effect in human hair are proposed in the paper.
It is expected that the research results could be applied to the fast test of Hg-contaminated people and provide the government with strong scientific evidence when dealing with Hg contamination.