Mercury, Urine Test
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About Our Mercury, Urine Test
This urine test is used to monitor exposure to mercury (primarily inorganic mercury). Some organic forms of mercury, including phenylmercury, are metabolized to inorganic mercury.
Acute and chronic mercury poisoning affects the kidneys, central nervous system, and the gastrointestinal tract.
The three telltale symptoms of mercury poisoning are:
- Impaired articulation
- Irregularity of muscular action
- Constricted visual fields
Mercury poisoning through chronic exposure to metallic and inorganic forms of mercury generally produces the following symptoms:
- Mental fatigue
- Mucous membrane irritation
Inorganic mercury poisoning is associated primarily with the following symptoms:
- Peripheral effects
- Tubular nephritis
Chronic inorganic mercury poisoning is an occupational disease of smelters, mercury miners, gilders, and factory workers.
Inhalation of mercury vapors may lead to:
- Other pulmonary symptoms
The most reliable way to measure exposure to inorganic mercury is to measure urinary mercury levels, however the correlation between urine levels and symptoms is poor. The most common nonindustrial source of mercury poisoning is the consumption of methyl mercury-contaminated fish. Organic mercury poisoning is best detected in blood, as this form of mercury is located mainly in the red blood cells.
Organic compounds predominantly affect the central nervous system (CNS) and effects may be severe and irreversible.
Additional general population exposure to mercury is from coal-fired power plants where an estimated 75 tons of mercury are emitted into the atmosphere each year.