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      Methylmercury and inorganic mercury in serum--correlation to fish consumption and dental amalgam in a cohort of women born in 1922.

      Environmental Research

      Regression Analysis, Aged, Middle Aged, blood, analysis, Methylmercury Compounds, Mercury, Humans, Fishes, Female, Environmental Exposure, Diet, adverse effects, Dental Amalgam, Cohort Studies, Animals

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          Methylmercury in serum (S-MeHg) was assessed from serum concentrations of total (S-TotHg) and inorganic mercury (S-InoHg), determined by cold vapor-atomic absorption spectrometry. The samples were collected from 135 women on two occasions, in 1968-1969 and 1980-1981. In a subgroup of 29 women, an association was found between S-MeHg and the amount of fish consumed in 1968-1969 (r = 0.38, P = 0.04). The association was stronger (r = 0.50; P = 0.006) when the individuals' mean S-MeHg from 1968-1969 and 1980-1981 were plotted vs fish consumption 1968-1969. In the group, as a whole, there was an association between S-InoHg and number of dental amalgam surfaces, in both 1968-1969 (r = 0.48, P = 0.0001) and 1980-1981 (r = 0.57, P < 0.0001). The S-InoHg increased by approximately 0.1 nmol/L per amalgam tooth surface, corresponding to an uptake of approximately 0.2 microgram/day per amalgam surface, but with considerable interindividual differences. The levels were lower in 1980-1981 than in 1968-1969 for both MeHg and InoHg. The medians and ranges (nmol/L) were for MeHg 1968-1969: 3.6 (0.3-11.9); MeHg 1980-1981, 2.0 (-0.4-8.7); InoHg 1968-1969, 3.3 (0.7-11.8); InoHg 1980-1981, 1.7 (0.1-11.8); TotHg 1968-1969, 7.2 (1.9-18.8); and TotHg 1980-1981, 3.9 (1.0-14.2). The decrease in S-MeHg is probably due to a decreased consumption of MeHg via contaminated fish. The decrease in S-InoHg may reflect a decrease in environmental exposure, but the possibility of contamination of the 1968-1969 samples at sampling and/or storage cannot be excluded.

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