Biological monitoring involving children exposed to mercury from a barometer in a private residence
SourceToxicology Letters, 231, 3, (2014), pp. 365-373
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 0: Other Research RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
A small spill of approximately 3mL of mercury from a broken barometer in a residential setting resulted in blood values of 32mug/L in a boy of 9 months and 26mug/L in a girl of 2.5 years in samples collected within 6h after the start of the incident. A nanny who attempted to remove the spill had a blood mercury value of 20mug/L at the same time point. These elevated blood values were attributed to inhalation rather than dermal uptake or ingestion. Exposure was aggravated by the use of a vacuum cleaner in an early attempt to remove the spill and incomplete decontamination of involved persons, leading to a continuation of exposure. Over a period of three months general cleaning was followed by targeted cleaning of hot spots until the indoor air mercury levels reached a median value of 0.090mug/m(3) with a range of 0.032-0.140mug/m(3). Meanwhile the family was staying in a shelter home. Human biological monitoring (HBM) was motivated by the complex exposure situation and the involvement of young children. Initially high blood values triggered alertness for clinical signs of intoxication, that (as it turned out) were not observed in any of the exposed individuals. Despite continued exposure from hair and clothes, within six weeks after the incident, blood levels returned to a background level normally seen in children. HBM contributed to reassurance of the parents of the young children that quick elimination of the mercury did not require medical treatment.
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