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Measurement of urinary mercury excretion by atomic absorption in health and disease
  1. Andrew Taylor,
  2. Vincent Marks
  1. South West Metropolitan Region Heavy Metals Reference Centre, Department of Biochemistry, University of Surrey, Guildford


    Taylor, A., and Marks, V. (1973).British Journal of Industrial Medicine,30, 293-296. Measurement of urinary excretion by atomic absorption in health and disease. Excretion of mercury was measured by a cold-vapour atomic absorption technique on samples of urine from five groups of people having varying exposure to mercury.

    Serial investigations of up to 14 days were carried out on eight subjects to determine the temporal relationship between exposure and excretion.

    Subjects with no exposure excreted 0-10 μg mercury per gramme creatinine. Similar values were found in laboratory staff and men assembling hollow cathode lamps. Excretion of mercury by dental workers was significantly increased. No correlation between exposure and excretion of mercury was seen in the subjects investigated.

    The significance of measuring urinary excretion in the detection of mercury intoxication is discussed. The suggestion is made that urinary mercury excretion of more than 20 μg/g creatinine or 40 μg mercury per 24 hours should be considered evidence of recent or remote exposure to mercury. It is concluded that measurement of urinary mercury excretion is important in revealing those persons who may ultimately develop symptoms of toxicity.

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