• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of canmedajCMAJ Information for AuthorsCMAJ Home Page
Can Med Assoc J. Sep 15, 1983; 129(6): 591–595.
PMCID: PMC1875598

Accidental inhalation of mercury vapour: respiratory and toxicologic consequences.

Abstract

Four adults, including a pregnant woman, and three children were admitted to hospital following accidental exposure to mercury vapour produced by heating mercury-gold amalgam. Initial symptoms and signs included a paroxysmal cough, dyspnea, chest pain, tachypnea, nausea, vomiting, fever and leukocytosis. Pulmonary function testing performed on the second day after exposure revealed air-flow obstruction and minor restrictive defects in three patients. The diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide was reduced in two of these patients. The mean initial blood mercury level (+/- one standard deviation) for the seven patients was 30.8 +/- 1.5 micrograms/dl. A computer analysis showed mercury to behave as a two-compartment system, the compartments having half-lives of 2 and 8 days. The four adults received chelation therapy with D-penicillamine, which did not affect the urinary excretion of mercury. The pregnant woman's infant, born 26 days after exposure, had no detectable clinical abnormalities. The levels of mercury in the blood of the mother and infant at birth and 6 days later were comparable, indicating free transfer of the metal across the placenta.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.4M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Images in this article

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Seaton A, Bishop CM. Acute mercury pneumonitis. Br J Ind Med. 1978 Aug;35(3):258–261. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Joselow MM, Goldwater LJ, Alvarez A, Herndon J. Absorption and excretion of mercury in man. XV. Occupational exposure among dentists. Arch Environ Health. 1968 Jul;17(1):39–44. [PubMed]
  • McLaughlin JF, Telzrow RW, Scott CM. Neonatal mercury vapor exposure in an infant incubator. Pediatrics. 1980 Dec;66(6):988–990. [PubMed]
  • MATTHES FT, KIRSCHNER R, YOW MD, BRENNAN JC. Acute poisoning associated with inhalation of mercury vapor; report of four cases. Pediatrics. 1958 Oct;22(4 Pt 1):675–688. [PubMed]
  • Snodgrass W, Sullivan JB, Jr, Rumack BH, Hashimoto C. Mercury poisoning from home gold ore processing. Use of penicillamine and dimercaprol. JAMA. 1981 Oct 23;246(17):1929–1931. [PubMed]
  • Hallee TJ. Diffuse lung disease caused by inhalation of mercury vapor. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1969 Mar;99(3):430–436. [PubMed]
  • HADDAD JK, STENBERG E., Jr BRONCHITIS DUE TO ACUTE MERCURY INHALATION. REPORT OF TWO CASES. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1963 Oct;88:543–545. [PubMed]
  • Cook DA, Taylor GS. The use of the APL/360 system in pharmacology. A computer assisted analysis of efflux data. Comput Biomed Res. 1971 Apr;4(1):157–166. [PubMed]
  • Jung RC, Aaronson J. Death Following Inhalation of Mercury Vapor at Home. West J Med. 1980 Jun;132(6):539–543. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Moutinho ME, Tompkins AL, Rowland TW, Banson BB, Jackson AH. Acute mercury vapor poisoning. Fatality in an infant. Am J Dis Child. 1981 Jan;135(1):42–44. [PubMed]
  • TENNANT R, JOHNSTON HJ, WELLS JB. Acute bilateral pneumonitis associated with the inhalation of mercury vapor. Report of five cases. Conn Med. 1961 Feb;25:106–109. [PubMed]
  • Sexton DJ, Powell KE, Liddle J, Smrek A, Smith JC, Clarkson TW. A nonoccupational outbreak of inorganic mercury vapor poisoning. Arch Environ Health. 1978 Jul-Aug;33(4):186–191. [PubMed]
  • Clarkson TW. The pharmacology of mercury compounds. Annu Rev Pharmacol. 1972;12:375–406. [PubMed]
  • MacGregor JT, Clarkson TW. Distribution, tissue binding and toxicity of mercurials. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1974;48(0):463–503. [PubMed]
  • TENG CT, BRENNAN JC. Acute mercury vapor poisoning. A report of four cases with radiographic and pathologic correlation. Radiology. 1959 Sep;73:354–361. [PubMed]
  • Kudsk FN. Absorption of mercury vapour from the respiratory tract in man. Acta Pharmacol Toxicol (Copenh) 1965;23(2):250–262. [PubMed]
  • Magos L. Mercury--blood interaction and mercury uptake by the brain after vapor exposure. Environ Res. 1967 Dec;1(4):323–337. [PubMed]
  • GRIFFITH GC, BUTT EM, WALKER J. The inorganic element content of certain human tissues. Ann Intern Med. 1954 Sep;41(3):501–509. [PubMed]
  • Agner E, Jans H. Mercury poisoning and nephrotic syndrome in two young siblings. Lancet. 1978 Oct 28;2(8096):951–951. [PubMed]
  • Buchet JP, Roels H, Bernard A, Lauwerys R. Assessment of renal function of workers exposed to inorganic lead, calcium or mercury vapor. J Occup Med. 1980 Nov;22(11):741–750. [PubMed]
  • HAYES AD, ROTHSTEIN A. The metabolism of inhaled mercury vapor in the rat studied by isotope techniques. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1962 Oct;138:1–10. [PubMed]
  • Suzuki T, Shishido S, Ishihara N. Different behaviour of inorganic and organic mercury in renal excretion with reference to effects of D-penicillamine. Br J Ind Med. 1976 May;33(2):88–91. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Sunderman FW. Clinical response to therapeutic agents in poisoning from mercury vapor. Ann Clin Lab Sci. 1978 Jul-Aug;8(4):259–269. [PubMed]
  • Ishihara N, Shiojima S, Suzuki T. Selective enhancement of urinary organic mercury excretion by D-penicillamine. Br J Ind Med. 1974 Jul;31(3):245–249. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Aronow R, Fleischmann LE. Mercury poisoning in children. The value of N-acetyl-D,L-penicillamine in a combined therapeutic approach. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 1976 Oct;15(10):936–945. [PubMed]
  • Kark RA, Poskanzer DC, Bullock JD, Boylen G. Mercury poisoning and its treatment with N-acetyl-D,L-penicillamine. N Engl J Med. 1971 Jul 1;285(1):10–16. [PubMed]
  • APOSHIAN HV, APOSHIAN MM. N-acetyl-DL-penicillamine, a new oral protective agent against the lethal effects of mercuric chloride. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1959 Jun;126(2):131–135. [PubMed]
  • BERLIN M, LEWANDER T. INCREASED BRAIN UPTAKE OF MERCURY CAUSED BY 2,3-DIMERCAPTOPROPANOL (BAL) IN MICE GIVEN MERCURIC CHLORIDE. Acta Pharmacol Toxicol (Copenh) 1965;22:1–7. [PubMed]
  • Clarkson TW, Magos L, Greenwood MR. The transport of elemental mercury into fetal tissues. Biol Neonate. 1972;21(3):239–244. [PubMed]

Articles from Canadian Medical Association Journal are provided here courtesy of Canadian Medical Association

Formats:

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...

Links

  • Compound
    Compound
    PubChem Compound links
  • MedGen
    MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles
  • Substance
    Substance
    PubChem Substance links

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...