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J Anal Toxicol. 1987 Jul-Aug;11(4):149-53.

Examination of blood levels of mercurials in practicing dentists using cold-vapor atomic absorption spectrometry.


The toxicity of mercury compounds in dentistry has been an issue of increasing concern. Relatively few data are available concerning the possible in vivo biotransformation of elemental mercury from dental amalgam into more toxic organic mercurials. The present study was designed to evaluate the existence of this in vivo pathway in dentists who work in a confined environment where metallic mercury vapor is constantly present. Two hundred five practicing dentists and 24 nondental controls were asked to participate in this study. The total, inorganic, and organic mercury contents of blood were determined by syringe-injection cold-vapor atomic absorption spectrometry. The student t-test indicates that the total and inorganic mercury levels in blood are significantly different between dentists and nondental controls at the significant level of p less than or equal to 0.05. The organomercurial levels are, however, insignificant at the same test level. This implies that high total and inorganic mercury levels are not correlated with high organomercurial levels in the blood of practicing dentists. Therefore, significant enzymatic conversion of inorganic to organic mercury compounds does not occur in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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