Disability weights for chronic mercury intoxication resulting from gold mining activities: results from an online pairwise comparisons survey

Nadine Steckling*, Brecht Devleesschauwer, Julia Winkelnkemper, Florian Fischer, Bret Ericson, Alexander Krämer, Claudia Hornberg, Richard Fuller, Dietrich Plass, Stephan Bose-O'Reilly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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In artisanal small-scale gold mining, mercury is used for gold-extraction, putting miners and nearby residents at risk of chronic metallic mercury vapor intoxication (CMMVI). Burden of disease (BoD) analyses allow the estimation of the public health relevance of CMMVI, but until now there have been no specific CMMVI disability weights (DWs). The objective is to derive DWs for moderate and severe CMMVI. Disease-specific and generic health state descriptions of 18 diseases were used in a pairwise comparison survey. Mercury and BoD experts were invited to participate in an online survey. Data were analyzed using probit regression. Local regression was used to make the DWs comparable to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. Alternative survey (visual analogue scale) and data analyses approaches (linear interpolation) were evaluated in scenario analyses. A total of 105 participants completed the questionnaire. DWs for moderate and severe CMMVI were 0.368 (0.261–0.484) and 0.588 (0.193–0.907), respectively. Scenario analyses resulted in higher mean values. The results are limited by the sample size, group of interviewees, questionnaire extent, and lack of generally accepted health state descriptions. DWs were derived to improve the data basis of mercury-related BoD estimates, providing useful information for policy-making. Integration of the results into the GBD DWs enhances comparability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • mercury
  • artisanal small-scale gold mining
  • chronic metallic mercury vapor intoxication
  • burden of disease
  • disability weights
  • pairwise comparison
  • visual analogue scale


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