Mercury accumulation in tissues from dental staff and controls in relation to exposure

Swed Dent J. 1989;13(6):235-43.


Samples, mainly from occipital cortex and pituitary gland, but also from rental cortex, olfactory bulbs, thyroid gland and liver were collected from autopsies of 8 dental staff cases and 27 controls. These samples were analysed for total mercury content using radiochemical neutron activation analyses. The results revealed high mercury concentrations (median 815, range 135-4,040 micrograms Hg/kg wet weight) in pituitaries from the dental staff cases compared to controls (N = 23, median 23 range 6-1, 170 micrograms Hg/kg). In occipital cortex, the cases had a median of 17, range of 4-300 micrograms Hg/kg and the controls (N = 20) had a median of 10, range 2-29 micrograms Hg/kg. A few samples from olfactory bulbs show low mercury concentrations for both cases and controls. Renal cortex was analysed from three cases and contained clearly higher concentrations (945, 1,545, 2,110 micrograms Hg/kg) compared to controls (N = 12, median 180, range 21-810 micrograms Hg/kg). There is no control material for the other analysed samples, but one thyroid sample had an extremely high concentration of 28,000 micrograms Hg/kg.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dental Amalgam
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent
  • Dentists*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Cortex / analysis
  • Male
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occipital Lobe / analysis
  • Olfactory Bulb / analysis
  • Pituitary Gland / analysis
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury