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An Sist Sanit Navar. 2012 Sep-Dec;35(3):525-8.

[Mercury thermometers, still toxic, still present].

[Article in Spanish]

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  • 1Centro de Salud de Valtierra, Navarra, 31514, Spain.


Mercury thermometers are and have been, despite their manufacture being banned, one of the main sources of exposure at the paediatric age to elementary mercury (Hg) in our environment. The toxicity produced by elementary Hg depends on the exposure channel and its length. Exposure through the digestive tract produces hardly any toxicity, but subcutaneous or intravenous inoculation and inhalation of mercury may produce damages at a local or system level. We present the case of a child who showed inoculation of liquid mercury in subcutaneous tissue after a liquid-in-glass thermometer broke. This provoked damages at a local level with steatonecrosis of the tissue. The diagnosis was decided through a radiological test and required urgent surgery with excision of skin and subcutaneous tissue, guided by radioscopy. Any spread at a system level was discarded. The levels of mercury in the bloodstream and in the urine were regular.

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