Communities surrounding the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA), a Superfund site in Colorado, were studied in order to determine whether exposures to mercury were greater among persons who resided there than among residents of a comparison area 12-15 miles distant. From a census-based stratified random sample, 469 persons were interviewed and urine samples were obtained for biomonitoring. Mercury was detected in urine from 32 (6.8%) of the 469 persons sample at a detection limit of 5 ppb. Trace levels of mercury (detectable, but nonquantifiable) were found in 80 (17.1%) of the persons sampled. Neither the frequency of detection, the arithmetic mean, nor the geometric mean value for urine mercury was found to be statistically different when persons living near the site were compared to persons from the more distant comparison area. The risk of mercury exposure associated with demographic variables, residence, occupation, hobbies, dietary habits, water supply, housing, and activity patterns was evaluated. In the second stage of the evaluation, the Neurobehavioral Core Test Battery (NCTB) is being used to assess individual functional deficits and nervous system disorders associated with exposure to mercury and other neurotoxic chemicals.
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