Mercury (Hg)

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Mercury is a naturally occurring metal which has several forms. The metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white, odorless liquid. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas.

Mercury combines with other elements, such as chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen, to form inorganic mercury compounds or “salts,” which are usually white powders or crystals. Mercury also combines with carbon to make organic mercury compounds. The most common one, methylmercury, is produced mainly by microscopic organisms in the water and soil. More mercury in the environment can increase the amounts of methylmercury that these small organisms make.

Metallic mercury is used to produce chlorine gas and caustic soda, and is also used in thermometers, dental fillings, and batteries. Mercury salts are sometimes used in skin lightening creams and as antiseptic creams and ointments.

A. INORGANIC MERCURY

  • Smelting; treatment of gold and silver ores;
  • Manufacture of amalgams, (dental, jewellery)
  • Electric bulbs
  • Batteries,
  • X-ray tube
  • Silvery white, heavy, liquid at room temp.
  • Found in nature as HgS

B. ORGANIC MERCURY

  • Seed dressings,
  • Pesticides,
  • Timber preservatives
  • Antiseptic,
  • Germicides,
  • Diuretics
  • Minamata Disease

 

TOXICOKINETIC

Absorption:

Inorganic:

  • Inhalation – 80%;
  • GIT : 2-10%

Organic:

  • All (Inhalation, GIT, Skin)

Metabolism:

Accumulate in kidney & brain

Cross Blood-brain barrier (BBB) and Placenta

Eliminated slowly in urine, faeces, saliva, sweat

Target organs : brain, kidney, GIT, pulmonary

 

HEALTH EFFECT

A. INORGANIC

Acute :

  • Respiratory System : Chemical Pneumonitis
  • Gastro Intestinal Tractus : Stomatitis, Diarrhoea
  • Renal: Acute nephritis ® Renal failure
  • Central Nervous System :
    • Tremors
    • Erethism
    • Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy
    • Mecurialentis
    • Neurobehavioural

Chronic : Mainly affect nervous system

  • CNS as above
  • GIT: salivation, gingivitis, dental erosions, blue line on gums
  • Renal: Proteinuria, nephrotic syndrome
  • Reproductive: Spermatogenesis, ­ Abortions

B. ORGANIC

Acute:

  • Irritant: Skin dermatitis, Perforation of nasal septum, Chemical burns and ulceration
  • Severe Vascular dermatitis

Chronic (Minamata Disease) (mainly CNS):

  • Headache, Fatigue, Poor memory, poor concentration
  • Paresthesias, Tremors, Ataxia, Dysarthria, Visual disturbances, Hearing disturbances
  • Deterioration of personality and intellect
  • Exposure in utero: Cerebral Palsy
  • Death

 

MONITORING

  • Hg (U)
  • Preshift
  • BEI: 35ug/g creatinine
  • Renal Function, Proteinuria
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cosmetic cosmetic mercury Hg mercury minimata disease timbal

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