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Assessing mercury health effects in gold workers near El Callao, Venezuela.
Rojas M; Drake PL; Roberts SM
J Occup Environ Med 2001 Feb; 43(2):158-165
Mercury exposure and health status were examined in 40 gold workers in the area surrounding El Callao, Venezuela. Concentrations of mercury in workplace air were measured on 3 successive days, and spot urine and hair samples were also taken for analysis. Subjects underwent a physical examination and completed a questionnaire regarding employment history, work activities involving mercury exposure, use of protective clothing and equipment, and frequency of 37 symptoms associated with mercury toxicity. A complete set of health data was collected for 29 of the subjects. Use of protective equipment was limited, and 17.9%, 24.1%, and 48.3% of subjects had mercury concentrations in air, hair, and urine, respectively, above contemporary occupational exposure guidelines. Physical examination found the workers to be generally healthy and without overt symptoms of mercury toxicity. The frequency of psychoneurological, gastrointestinal, cardio-respiratory, and dermal symptoms was unrelated to any of the measures of mercury exposure. Two subjects had modestly elevated urinary levels of N-acetyl beta-D-glucosaminidase. Despite substantial occupational exposure to mercury among a number of the subjects, few adverse health effects were observed that were plausibly related to mercury.
Workers; Worker-health; Mercury-compounds; Occupational-health; Occupational-exposure; Gold-mines; Miners; Mining-industry; Mine-workers
Issue of Publication
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division