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Health Impact Assessment Unit

Mercury is one of the most dangerous pollutants for human health and living organisms due to its toxicity and its persistence in the environment. Once released to soil, water or the atmosphere, mercury undergoes complex chemical, physical and biological processes which can lead to the formation of very harmful compounds for health and the environment. Methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury, bioaccumulates through the food chain and the consumption of some piscivorous fish can cause serious human health impacts.

The "Health Impact Assessment" Unit has among its aims, the optimization of the methodology for the development of appropriate exposure, effect and susceptibility biomarkers, both in terms of characterization as well as in terms of standardization of related analytical methods. It will also implement and coordinate a network, in Italy to monitor the population exposure over time to identify the variation of the exposition trends, and evaluate the potential exposure to mercury, from both anthropogenic and natural origins, of the general population and of groups of more vulnerable populations for exposure and/or susceptibility. The Unit aims also to define the hot spots at national and global levels, in order to support the relevant regulatory authorities in the identification and implementation of prevention strategies for managing health risk aspects.


Led by: Dr. Alessandro Alimonti
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Dipartimento Ambiente e Prevenzione Primaria 
Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS)
Viale Regina Elena
Roma, Italy