Renal and immunologic markers for chloralkali workers with low exposure to mercury vapor

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2000 Oct;26(5):427-35. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.564.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate renal function and immunologic markers among chloralkali workers with long-term low exposure to mercury vapor.

Methods: Forty-seven currently exposed workers were compared with reference workers matched for age in a cross-sectional design.

Results: The mean urinary mercury concentration was 5.9 (range 1.1-16.8) nmol/mmol creatinine (Cr) for the exposed workers and 1.3 (range 0.2-5.0) nmol/mmol Cr for the referents. The chloralkali workers had been exposed for an average of 13.3 (range 2.8-34.5) years. The activity of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase in urine (U-NAG) was higher in the exposed workers (mean 0.18 U/mmol Cr versus 0.14 U/mmol Cr, P=0.02). Associations between current urinary mercury, cumulative urinary mercury, and cumulative urinary mercury per year (intensity) and U-NAG, autoantibodies to myeloperoxidase (anti-MPO) and proteinase 3 in serum, respectively, were observed. The activity of U-NAG and anti-MPO was increased in the workers with the highest exposure, as assessed by their mean intensity of exposure. The highest activity of U-NAG was observed in the exposed workers with the lower concentrations of selenium in whole blood.

Conclusions: The study indicates an effect of exposure on the kidney proximale tubule cells, possibly modified by individual selenium status, and an effect mediated by neutrophil granulocytes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosaminidase / urine*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Biomarkers
  • Cadmium / blood
  • Cadmium / urine
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Female
  • Glycosaminoglycans / urine
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure*
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mercury / blood
  • Mercury / toxicity*
  • Mercury / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Peroxidase / immunology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Selenium / blood
  • Selenium / urine*
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors


  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Cadmium
  • Creatinine
  • Peroxidase
  • Acetylglucosaminidase
  • Mercury
  • Selenium