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Mercury and selenium in workers previously exposed to mercury vapour at a chloralkali plant.
  1. D G Ellingsen,
  2. R I Holland,
  3. Y Thomassen,
  4. M Landro-Olstad,
  5. W Frech,
  6. H Kjuus
  1. Department of Occupational Medicine, Telemark Central Hospital, Porsgrunn, Norway.


    The concentrations of total mercury (B-Hg), inorganic mercury (B-IHg), and methyl mercury (B-MeHg) in whole blood, urinary mercury (U-Hg), and selenium in urine (U-Se) and whole blood (B-Se) were determined in 74 chloralkali workers previously exposed to Hg vapour, and compared with 51 age matched referents. Dental amalgam state, fish consumption, and exposure related indices were studied with regard to the determined elements. A significant relation between the surface of dental amalgam and U-Hg (Pearson's r = 0.63, p < 0.001) was found among the referents. Mean U-Se was significantly lower (p < 0.001) among the subjects previously exposed to Hg (34.1 nmol/mmol creatinine) compared with that for the referents (42.6 nmol/mmol creatinine). A significant negative relation between the cumulative Hg dose and U-Se was also found. The mechanisms and the clinical significance of these findings are not clear. No relation between current U-Hg and previous occupational exposure to Hg was found among subjects in whom exposure had ceased more than one year before the study.

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