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Mutat Res. 1983 Jan;114(1):1-18.

Mutagenicity and teratogenicity of mercury compounds.


Agriculture, consumption of fossil fuels and, to a lesser extent, industry, are the main sources of pollution by mercury which is discharged into the environment as metallic mercury, as inorganic mercury compounds, or as organic compounds. Once in the environment, mercury compounds are capable of a variety of transformations. Some professional or accidental mercury poisonings have been reported in human populations, but they can easily be minimized by appropriate preventive measures. Production of C-mitosis in plant material is the most noticeable genetic effect of mercury compounds. No positive report that mercury could be carcinogenic in man has appeared up to now and animal experiments have also provided negative results. Although placenta may represent a certain barrier to mercury, embryotoxicity and teratogenicity of organic mercury compounds have been observed in numerous systems such as fish, birds and mammals.

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