Sodium 2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonate challenge test for mercury in humans: II. Urinary mercury, porphyrins and neurobehavioral changes of dental workers in Monterrey, Mexico

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1995 Jan;272(1):264-74.


The sodium salt of 2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonic acid (DMPS) challenge test (300 mg p.o. after an 11-hr fast) was given in Monterrey, Mexico to dental and nondental personnel. Urine samples were collected and analyzed for total mercury. The mean mercury urinary excretion (+/- S.E.) for 6 hr before and 6 hr after DMPS administration for 10 dental technicians, who formulate amalgam, was 4.84 micrograms +/- 0.742 and 424.0 micrograms +/- 84.9; for 5 dentists, who use amalgam in their practice, 3.28 micrograms +/- 1.11 and 162.0 micrograms +/- 51.2; and for 13 nondental personnel, 0.783 microgram +/- 0.189 and 27.3 micrograms +/- 3.19. The urinary coproporphyrin levels before DMPS administration, which are indicative of renal mercury content, were quantitatively associated with the urinary mercury levels among the three study groups after DMPS administration. This was not so if the urinary mercury level before DMPS administration was compared with the urinary coproporphyrin concentration. The urinary mercury level after DMPS administration is a better indicator of exposure and renal mercury burden than is the mercury level measured in the urine before DMPS is given. Regression analysis showed that the coefficient of urinary mercury was statistically and adversely associated with complex attention (switching task), the perceptual motor task (symbol-digit substitution), symptoms and mood. The easily performed DMPS-mercury challenge test is useful for monitoring dental personnel for mercury vapor exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Behavior
  • Body Burden
  • Dental Auxiliaries*
  • Dentists*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mercury / toxicity
  • Mercury / urine*
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Porphyrins / urine*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Unithiol / therapeutic use*


  • Porphyrins
  • Unithiol
  • Mercury