Neurobehavioral effects from exposure to dental amalgam Hg(o): new distinctions between recent exposure and Hg body burden

FASEB J. 1998 Aug;12(11):971-80. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.12.11.971.


Potential toxicity from exposure to mercury vapor (Hg(o)) from dental amalgam fillings is the subject of current public health debate in many countries. We evaluated potential central nervous system (CNS) toxicity associated with handling Hg-containing amalgam materials among dental personnel with very low levels of Hg(o) exposure (i.e., urinary Hg <4 microg/l), applying a neurobehavioral test battery to evaluate CNS functions in relation to both recent exposure and Hg body burden. New distinctions between subtle preclinical effects on symptoms, mood, motor function, and cognition were found associated with Hg body burden as compared with those associated with recent exposure. The pattern of results, comparable to findings previously reported among subjects with urinary Hg >50 microg/l, presents convincing new evidence of adverse behavioral effects associated with low Hg(o) exposures within the range of that received by the general population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Cognition
  • Dental Amalgam / adverse effects*
  • Dental Assistants*
  • Dentists*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mercury / adverse effects*
  • Mercury / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*


  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury