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An Inorganic Mercury Hazard in the Manufacture of Artificial Jewellery
  1. J. F. Copplestone,
  2. D. A. McArthur
  1. Occupational Health Unit, Department of Health, Wellington, New Zealand


    An unusual inorganic mercury hazard in a factory manufacturing artificial jewellery is described. Considerable exposure of workers was confirmed by levels of up to 2,000 μg./1. of mercury in urine. The air concentration was also found to be correspondingly high, up to 0·5 mg./m.3 of mercury in the general atmosphere. Preventive measures have resulted in a slow fall in urinary concentrations over a period of several months. Despite the high results obtained, no worker showed any overt evidence of mercurialism. The significance of this is considered in the discussion and it is suggested that mercurialism may be due to a failure in excretion. If this is so, it would have a considerable effect on surveillance techniques; furthermore such a hypothesis may account for the anomalies that are well known in the surveillance of workers exposed to mercury.

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