ORIGINAL RESEARCH
Diagnostic and Environmental Procedures in Accidental Mercury Vapor Intoxication – Experiences from an Outpatient Clinic
Joanna Kasznia-Kocot, Beata Dąbkowska, Maja Muszyńska-Graca, Renata Złotkowska, Piotr Zygmunt Brewczyński
 
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Institute of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health,
Department of Environmental Health and Epidemiology, Kościelna 13, 41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland
 
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2010;19(3):579–585
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ABSTRACT
This paper presents examples of improper reactions to unintentional mercury spills. Seven families consisting of 22 people – 15 adults and 7 children – (including 2 breastfed babies) were exposed to metallic mercury vapors. U-Hg levels ranged from 14.5 to 222.8 μg/g creatinine. Among patients exposed to mercury vapor we noticed fatigue and weariness, excessive sleepiness, hyperexcitability, and headaches. A stomachache was reported by 3 adults, and a metallic taste in the mouth and a feeling of “thickening of mucous membranes” by 1 patient. In 2 cases allergic rash and erythema on the hands were observed, but 6 patients stayed asymptomatic. Among children, neuropsychological disturbances (intention tremor, EEG changes, emotional lability, withdrawal) were found in a 5-year-old girl (who also had the highest U-Hg value – 222.8 μg/g of creatinine), who stayed with family for 22 days after a mercury spill. This study emphasizes the need for continuous education of different groups of population regarding rules of properly handling metallic mercury vapor.
The algorithm of immediate reaction in cases of accidental exposure to metallic mercury vapor should be elaborated uppon and made available to medical professionals and emergency services.
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