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Levels of mercury in hair samples of residents of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, are about 10 times the nationwide average, possibly due to consumption of whale meat with a high concentration of mercury, one of the researchers who conducted the study said Thursday.

Hair samples were collected from 30 men and 20 women living in the whaling town, whose population is about 3,400, December 2007 and July 2008 for testing, said Tetsuya Endo, an associate professor at Health Sciences University of Hokkaido.

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