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Some science - merc

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Posted Apr 23, 2002 at 9:12:05 AM
Subject: Some science - merc

Toxicol Sci 2002 Apr;66(2):261-73

Disposition of inhaled mercury vapor in pregnant rats: maternal toxicity and effects on developmental outcome.
Morgan DL, Chanda SM, Price HC, Fernando R, Liu J, Brambila E, O'Connor RW, Beliles RP, Barone S Jr.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.

The disposition and toxicity of inhaled elemental mercury (Hg0) vapor for pregnant Long-Evans rats, and potential adverse effects on reproductive outcome were investigated. Rats were exposed to 0, 1, 2, 4, or 8 mg Hg0/m(3) for 2 h/day from gestation day (GD) 6 through GD 15.

Maternal toxicity occurred primarily in rats exposed to 4 and 8 mg/m(3) and was manifested as a concentration-related decrease in body weight gain and mild nephrotoxicity. Control rats gained about 13% of their initial body weight during the 10-day exposure. Rats exposed to 4 mg/m(3) Hg0 gained about 7% less than controls, and rats exposed to 8 mg/m(3) Hg0 lost about 17% of their initial body weight during the 10-day exposure period. Maternal kidney weights were significantly increased in the 4 and 8 mg/m(3) concentration groups, and urinalysis revealed increased levels of protein and alkaline phosphatase activity in urine of all Hg0-exposed rats.

Dams exposed to 8 mg/m(3) were euthanized in moribund condition on postnatal day (PND) 1. There was no histopathological evidence of toxicity in maternal lung, liver, or kidney of exposed rats at GD 6, GD 15, or PND 1. The incidence of resorptions was significantly increased, litter size and PND 1 neonatal body weights were significantly decreased only in the 8-mg/m(3) group.

Total Hg concentrations in maternal tissues increased with increasing number of exposure days and concentration. In general, approximately 70% of Hg was eliminated from maternal tissues during the week following the last exposure (GD 15 to PND 1). Elimination of Hg from maternal brain and kidney was slower than in other tissues, possibly due to higher levels of metallothionein.

Total Hg concentrations in fetal tissues increased with increasing number of exposure days and concentration, demonstrating that a significant amount of Hg crossed the placenta. One week after the last exposure, significant amounts of Hg were still present in brain, liver, and kidney of PND 1 neonates. Metallothionein levels in neonatal tissues were not significantly increased by exposure to 4 mg/m(3) Hg0.

The total amount of Hg in neonatal brain (ng/brain) continued to increase after termination of inhalation exposure, suggesting a redistribution of Hg from the dam to neonatal brain. These data demonstrate that inhaled Hg0 vapor is distributed to all maternal and fetal tissues in a dose-dependent manner. Adverse effects of Hg on developmental outcome occurred only at a concentration that caused maternal toxicity.

PMID: 11896293 [PubMed - in process]


J Dev Behav Pediatr 2002 Feb;23(1 Suppl):S13-22

In harm's way: toxic threats to child development.
Stein J, Schettler T, Wallinga D, Valenti M.
Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Developmental disabilities result from complex interactions of genetic, toxicologic (chemical), and social factors.

Among these various causes, toxicologic exposures deserve special scrutiny because they are readily preventable. This article provides an introduction to some of the literature addressing the effects of these toxicologic exposures on the developing brain. This body of research demonstrates cause for serious concern that commonly encountered household and environmental chemicals contribute to developmental disabilities.

The developing brain is uniquely susceptible to permanent impairment by exposure to environmental substances during time windows of vulnerability. Lead, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been extensively studied and found to impair development at levels of exposure currently experienced by significant portions of the general population. High-dose exposures to each of these chemicals cause catastrophic developmental effects. More recent research has revealed toxicity at progressively lower exposures, illustrating a "declining threshold of harm" commonly observed with improved understanding of developmental toxicants.

For lead, mercury, and PCBs, recent studies reveal that background-population exposures contribute to a wide variety of problems, including impairments in attention, memory, learning, social behavior, and IQ. Unfortunately, for most chemicals there is little data with which to evaluate potential risks to neurodevelopment. Among the 3000 chemicals produced in highest volume (over 1 million lbs/yr), only 12 have been adequately tested for their effects on the developing brain.

This is a matter of concern because the fetus and child are exposed to untold numbers, quantities, and combinations of substances whose safety has not been established. Child development can be better protected by more precautionary regulation of household and environmental chemicals. Meanwhile, health care providers and parents can play an important role in reducing exposures to a wide variety of known and suspected neurodevelopmental toxicants that are widely present in consumer products, food, the home, and wider community.

PMID: 11875286 [PubMed - in process]


Biol Trace Elem Res 2001 Jul;81(1):1-19

Mercury and selenium concentrations in maternal and neonatal scalp hair: relationship to amalgam-based dental treatment received during pregnancy.
Razagui IB, Haswell SJ.
University of Hull Postgraduate Medical School, Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Hull Maternity Hospital, United Kingdom.

Mercury and selenium concentrations were determined in scalp hair samples collected postpartum from 82 term pregnancy mothers and their neonates. Maternal mercury and selenium had median concentrations of 0.39 microg/g (range 0.1-2.13 microg/g) and 0.75 microg/g (range 0.1-3.95 microg/g), respectively, and corresponding median neonatal values were 0.24 microg/g (range 0.1-1.93 microg) and 0.52 microg/g (range (0.1-3.0 microg/g).

Amalgam-based restorative dental treatment received during pregnancy by 27 mothers (Group I) was associated with significantly higher mercury concentrations in their neonates (p < 0.0001) compared to those born to 55 mothers (Group II) whose most recent history of such dental treatment was dated to periods ranging between 1 and 12 yr prior to pregnancy. In the Group I mother/neonate pairs, amalgam removal and replacement in 10 cases was associated with significantly higher mercury concentrations compared to 17 cases of new amalgam emplacement. Selenium concentrations showed no significant intergroup differences.

However, the selenium/mercury molar ratio values were lowest in the Group I neonates, compared to their mothers and to the Group II mother/neonate pairs. This ratio decreased as mercury concentration increased, and this interrelation was statistically significant in both groups of mother/neonate pairs.

The data from this preliminary study suggest that amalgam-based dental treatment during pregnancy is associated with higher prenatal exposure to mercury, particularly in cases of amalgam removal and replacement. The ability of a peripheral biological tissue, such as hair, to elicit such marked differences in neonatal mercury concentrations provides supporting evidence of high fetal susceptibility to this form of mercury exposure. The data are discussed in relation to the differences between maternal and fetal mercury metabolisms and to mercury-selenium metabolic intereactions in response to mercury exposure.

PMID: 11508328 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

J Occup Environ Med 2002 Feb;44(2):143-54

Mercury exposure: current concepts, controversies, and a clinic's experience.
Kales SN, Goldman RH.
Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health (Occupational Health Program), Cambridge, MA, USA.

In the context of controversies surrounding fish consumption, amalgams, and commercial hair testing, we reviewed all cases from an occupational and environmental medicine clinic that had undergone mercury testing. Sixty-nine of 71 (97%) patients had no known mercury exposures other than diet or amalgams. Of these 69, 48 had blood mercury tested and 58 had urine testing. Regular-to-heavy fish consumption explained 10 of 11 cases with blood mercury concentrations > 15 micrograms/L (19 to 53 micrograms/L). Six of these 10 individuals reported regular swordfish consumption. For the 31 patients with adequate dietary history, there was a significant relationship between fish consumption and blood mercury concentration (P < 0.001). Higher blood mercury concentrations were, however, not associated with specific patterns of health complaints. Ninety-eight percent (57 of 58) of urine values were < 10 micrograms/L.

Fourteen patients were evaluated because they were labeled as mercury toxic by other practitioners after unconventional commercial testing. Using standard tests of blood and urine, we could not document evidence of mercury toxicity in any of these 14 cases.

We conclude that consumption of commercially available fish can lead to elevated blood mercury concentrations. A recognized exposure source is a better predictor of significant mercury concentrations in biologic media than any particular symptom constellation. Unconventional commercial panels that test hair or urine for multiple metals have questionable validity. Clinicians should use standard blood and urine tests to evaluate mercury exposure.Publication Types: Review Review, Tutorial

PMID: 11851215 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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