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Rev Med Interne. 2011 Jul;32(7):416-24. doi: 10.1016/j.revmed.2009.08.024. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

[Mercury poisoning].

[Article in French]

Author information

1
Service de pathologie professionnelle, groupe hospitalier Cochin-Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, AP-HP, 27, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Jacques, 75014 Paris, France. lynda.bensefa@cch.aphp.fr

Abstract

Mercury is a widespread heavy metal with potential severe impacts on human health. Exposure conditions to mercury and profile of toxicity among humans depend on the chemical forms of the mercury: elemental or metallic mercury, inorganic or organic mercury compounds. This article aims to reviewing and synthesizing the main knowledge of the mercury toxicity and its organic compounds that clinicians should know. Acute inhalation of metallic or inorganic mercury vapours mainly induces pulmonary diseases, whereas chronic inhalation rather induces neurological or renal disorders (encephalopathy and interstitial or glomerular nephritis). Methylmercury poisonings from intoxicated food occurred among some populations resulting in neurological disorders and developmental troubles for children exposed in utero. Treatment using chelating agents is recommended in case of symptomatic acute mercury intoxication; sometimes it improves the clinical effects of chronic mercury poisoning. Although it is currently rare to encounter situations of severe intoxication, efforts remain necessary to decrease the mercury concentration in the environment and to reduce risk on human health due to low level exposure (dental amalgam, fish contamination by organic mercury compounds…). In case of occupational exposure to mercury and its compounds, some disorders could be compensated in France. Clinicians should work with toxicologists for the diagnosis and treatment of mercury intoxication.

PMID:
20579784
DOI:
10.1016/j.revmed.2009.08.024
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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