Mercury intoxications in household and industrial conditions

V.S. Tkachyshyn


Mercury is a liquid silver-white heavy metal. Mercury belongs to industrial poisons of the first class of danger. Mercury enters the body mostly through respiratory organs, less often — through a skin. These ways of getting it into the body cause intoxications. It also can enter the body through digestive organs. In this case, intoxication does not develop. Mercury is excreted with urine, feces, then with saliva and milk of mother during lactation. Mercury belongs to group of thiol poisons and blocks sulfhydryl groups of protein compounds. Mercury disturbs protein metabolism and the course of enzymes processes. All this results in significant dysfunctions of the central nervous system, in particular its upper parts. There are acute and chronic mercury intoxications. The acute intoxication develops roughly. There are three stages of chronic intoxication: initial (functional), moderate changes and severe. The diagnosis is based on a typical clinical picture, the data of the occupational history and the sanitary-and-hygienic characteristic of working conditions. Confirmation of the diagnosis is the presence of mercury in urine with clinical signs of intoxication. The most effective antidote in mercury intoxications caused is unitiol. Sodium thiosulfates and succimer are also effective. At the initial stage of intoxication, the discontinuance of exposure to mercury and other toxic substances is recommended for 1–2 months. Appropriate treatment is being performed. Upon improvement, the worker can return to his former job, subject to a thorough medical observation of his state of health. In the advanced stages of intoxication, further work under mercury exposure is contraindicated. The patient needs to be transferred to work, which is not related to the influence of any toxic substances. He is sent to the medical and social expert commission to determine the degree of disability. The main task of prevention of intoxication caused by mercury is to replace mercury with less harmful substances, reducing the concentration of its vapors in the air of the working zone. Automation and sealing of production processes are carried out. The premises, in which work with mercury is performed, must be equipped with walls and floors impermeable to mercury and provided with effective ventilation. The persons working with mercury are provided with special clothes from dense fabric. Preliminary and periodic medical examinations are carried out.


mercury; intoxication; clinical picture; diagnosis; treatment; functional capacity evaluation; prevention


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Ткачишин В.С. Професійні хвороби: Підручник. — К.: ДП «Інформаційно-аналітичне агентство», 2011. — 895 с.

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