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Pediatr Ann. 2004 Jul;33(7):437-42.

Mercury in the environment: sources, toxicities, and prevention of exposure.

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Medical Corps, United States Navy, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Acute and chronic exposure to mercury can significantly affect the health of a population, specifically the children. Methylmercury may pose the highest threat, as it is ubiquitous in the environment and it is a potent neurotoxicant. Methylmercury easily passes through the placenta to the developing fetus. Elemental mercury, or quicksilver, also poses a threat to children because it may be found readily in schools, hospitals, and medicine cabinets, and its intriguing liquid nature may be enticing to children. Pediatricians must be diligent in informing patients of possible exposure sources, and alerting them to new government advisories and recommendations. They should also be knowledgeable regarding classic clinical presentations of mercury toxicity. It is only in cases involving a knowledge of mercury that appropriate historical information is obtained and correct diagnoses are made. Preventing mercury exposure and consequent toxicity is of importance because therapies are controversial and long-term consequences may be significant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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