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Mercurialism: Environmental and Occupational Aspects

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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Morris M. Joselow, Ph.D., Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, N.J. 07103

Newark, New Jersey

Ann Intern Med. 1972;76(1):119-130. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-76-1-119
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The recent recognition of mercury as a widespread environmental pollutant has presented practitioners with a new problem whose medical aspects they may be ill prepared to evaluate. Extensive background information on human toxicity is available from studies of the effects of occupational exposures. Such exposures have generally been to concentrations considerably greater than those found environmentally and have been mostly to inorganic mercury or compounds that readily decomposed to inorganic mercury. The organic forms of mercury, particularly the monomethyl mercury compounds, are far more toxic and are the type likely to be encountered in community exposures, as, for example, in foodstuffs. Characteristics of mercurialism originating from the absorption of both inorganic and organic mercury compounds are reviewed, and current problems concerning the risks of human exposure at environmental levels are presented.





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