Microenvironmental exposure to mercury vapor.
Work area and breathing zone samples were collected in a factory utilizing metallic mercury and analyzed for mercury vapor content. Breathing zone samples averaged several fold higher in concentration than concurrent area samples, reflecting a "microenvironmental" exposure to mercury vapor, presumably from contaminated clothing and hands. Blood and corrected total urine mercury values correlated well with the average microenvironmental exposure level for each worker. Measurements of unbound mercury in urine samples were sensitive at picking up minimal exposures. Excessive amounts of unbound mercury were not found in the urine, even with wide day-to-day swings in microenvironmental mercury vapor levels, suggesting that the human body can adapt to a chronic, moderate exposure to mercury vapor.
Stopford, W; Bundy, SD; Goldwater, LJ; Bittikofer, JA
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