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Distribution and Excretion of Methyl and Phenyl Mercury Salts
  1. J. C. Gage
  1. Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd., Industrial Hygiene Research Laboratories, Alderley Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire


    The distribution, metabolism, and excretion of phenyl mercury acetate (P.M.A.) and of methyl mercury dicyanidiamide (M.M.D.) has been studied in the rat during the repeated subcutaneous administration of small doses over a period of six weeks, and for several weeks after a single dose.

    The results indicate that P.M.A. is absorbed unchanged into the circulation from which it is mainly removed by the liver and kidneys where it is metabolized and excreted in the faeces and urine mostly as inorganic mercury. During repeated dosage the rats reached a steady state by the end of the second week when excretion approximately balanced intake. No measurable amount of mercury was found in the central nervous system.

    After repeated dosage with M.M.D. there is no clear indication of a steady state being reached after six weeks. There is an accumulation of organic mercury in all tissues, particularly in the red cells, and a progressive increase in the brain concentration. M.M.D. is more slowly released from the tissues than P.M.A. and the breakdown to inorganic mercury is low.

    The control of human exposure to alkyl and aryl mercury salts is considered in the light of these experimental observations. The recommendation that the concentration of alkyl mercury salts in the atmosphere should not exceed 0·01 mg./m.3 seems justifiable, but there appears to be no reason to establish the figure for aryl mercury salts below the 0·1 mg./m.3 recommended for inorganic mercury vapour.

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