- Gillian Beauchamp, MD
Gillian Beauchamp, MD
- Adjunct Instructor and Toxicology Fellow, Department of Emergency Medicine
- Oregon Health & Science University
- Shana Kusin, MD
Shana Kusin, MD
- Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Medical Toxicology
- Oregon Health and Science University
- Carl-Gustaf Elinder, MD, PhD
Carl-Gustaf Elinder, MD, PhD
- Professor of Renal Medicine
- Karolinska Institute, Sweden
- Section Editors
- Gary C Curhan, MD, ScD
Gary C Curhan, MD, ScD
- Section Editor — Chronic Kidney Disease
- Professor of Medicine
- Harvard Medical School
- Stephen J Traub, MD
Stephen J Traub, MD
- Section Editor — Toxicology
- Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
- Mayo Medical School
Mercury exists in elemental, inorganic, and organic forms, all of which may be toxic. The toxic manifestation depends on the form of exposure. This topic reviews sources of mercury exposure, the clinical manifestations, and the treatment and prevention of mercury toxicity.
Potential toxicity from ingestion of fish during pregnancy is discussed elsewhere. (See "Nutrition in pregnancy", section on 'Fish intake' and "Fish consumption and omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy", section on 'Minimizing exposure to methylmercury in fish'.)
The use of thimerosal in vaccines is discussed elsewhere. (See "Autism and chronic disease: Lack of evidence for thimerosal as a contributing factor".)
CHEMISTRY AND BIOCHEMOKINETICS
Elemental mercury is a silver-colored liquid ("quicksilver") that is volatile at room temperature and causes pulmonary and neurologic toxicity . Inorganic mercury is present in various oxidation states as mercuric salts, which, if ingested, can cause severe gastroenteritis, shock, and renal failure [2-5]. The ingestion of organic mercury as part of organomercuric compounds causes severe neurologic toxicity [6-9].
The efficiency of absorption, route of elimination, and tissue deposition (which determines toxicity) of mercury depends upon the route of exposure and the chemical form of the metal. The mechanism of transport of mercury in different tissues and organs is complex :
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- CHEMISTRY AND BIOCHEMOKINETICS
- USES OF MERCURY
- HUMAN EXPOSURE
- Amalgam fillings
- Exposure from diet
- Occupational exposure
- CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF TOXICITY
- Elemental mercury vapor
- Inorganic mercury salts
- Organic mercury compounds
- Tubular dysfunction
- Chelator treatment
- Renal toxicity
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS