mercury poisoning

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mercury

 (Hg) [mer´ku-re]
a chemical element, atomic number 80, atomic weight 200.59. (See Appendix 6.) Mercury forms two sets or classes of compounds: mercurous, in which a single atom of mercury combines with a monovalent radical, and mercuric, in which a single atom of mercury combines with a bivalent radical. Mercury and its salts can be absorbed by the skin and mucous membranes, causing chronic poisoning (see mercury poisoning). The mercuric salts are more soluble and irritant than the mercurous.
ammoniated mercury a compound used as an antiseptic skin and ophthalmic ointment. It should be applied with caution, as excessive use may irritate the skin and cause dermatitis.
mercury bichloride an extremely poisonous compound formerly used in treatment of syphilis but now used only as a disinfectant.
mercury poisoning acute or chronic disease caused by exposure to mercury or its salts; an important aspect is its toxic effect on the brain, causing impaired judgment, memory loss, sleeplessness, and nervousness. The acute form, due to ingestion, is marked by severe abdominal pain, metallic taste in the mouth, vomiting, oliguria or anuria at onset, followed by bloody diarrhea, and corrosion and ulceration of the entire digestive tract. The chronic form, due to absorption by the skin and mucous membranes, inhalation of vapors, or ingestion of mercury salts, is marked by stomatitis, metallic taste in the mouth, a blue line along the border of the gum, sore hypertrophied gums that bleed easily, loosening of the teeth, excessive salivation, tremors and incoordination, and psychiatric symptoms including abnormal excitability, anxiety, and social withdrawal. A common cause of chronic mercury poisoning is the ingestion of contaminated fish. Because of this, some fishing areas are posted with signs recommending limiting consumption of fish caught there. See also minamata disease.
Treatment. Treatment consists of removal of the source of exposure and administration of a chelating agent. Exchange transfusions and removal of mercury by surgery are options in selected patients. Consultation with a toxicologist is warranted.

mer·cu·ry poi·son·ing

a disease usually caused by the ingestion or inhalation of mercury or mercury compounds, which are toxic in relation to their ability to produce mercuric ions; usually acute mercury poisoning is associated with ulcerations of the mouth (including loosening of teeth), stomach, and intestine in addition to toxic changes in the renal tubules; anuria and anemia may occur; respiratory distress and pneumonia can follow inhalation; usually chronic mercury poisoning is a result of industrial pollution; causes gastrointestinal or central nervous system manifestations including stomatitis, diarrhea, headaches, ataxia, tremor, hyperreflexia, sensorineural impairment, and emotional instability and sometimes delirium.
See also: Mad Hatter syndrome.

mercury poisoning

a toxic condition caused by the ingestion or inhalation of mercury or a mercury compound. The chronic form, resulting from inhalation of the vapors or dust of mercurial compounds or from repeated ingestion of very small amounts, is characterized by irritability, thirst, excessive saliva, loosened teeth, gum disorders, slurred speech, tremors, and staggering. Symptoms of acute mercury poisoning appear in a few minutes to a half hour and include a metallic taste in the mouth, thirst, nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and renal failure that may result in death. The presence of mercury in the body is determined by a urine test. Free mercury, such as in thermometers, is not absorbed in the GI tract, but because it is very volatile, hazardous vapors may penetrate ordinary toxic dust respirators, causing poisoning by inhalation. Mercury compounds are found in agricultural fungicides and in certain antiseptics and pigments. They are used extensively in industry. Industrial wastes containing mercury have been identified in some areas, and seafood from contaminated waters has caused serious public health problems. Also called hydrargyrism, mercurialism. See also Minamata disease.

mer·cu·ry poi·son·ing

(mĕr'kyūr-ē poy'zŏn-ing)
A disease usually caused by the ingestion of mercury or mercury compounds, which are toxic in relation to their ability to produce mercuric ions; acute mercury poisoning is usually associated with ulcerations of the stomach and intestine and toxic changes in the renal tubules; anuria and anemia may occur; chronic mercury poisoning is usually a result of industrial poisoning and causes gastrointestinal or central nervous system manifestations including stomatitis, diarrhea, ataxia, tremor, hyperreflexia, sensorineural impairment, and emotional instability (Mad Hatter syndrome).
Synonym(s): hydrargyria, hydrargyrism, mercurialism.

mercury poisoning

The toxic effect of ingestion of mercury compounds either in large doses (acute poisoning) or in small doses over a period (chronic poisoning). Acute mercury poisoning causes nausea and vomiting, pain in the abdomen and diarrhoea. Chronic poisoning, as from the inhalation of mercury vapour, causes brain damage with staggering, tunnel vision, garbled speech, severe tremor and emotional disturbances.

mer·cu·ry poi·son·ing

(mĕr'kyūr-ē poy'zŏn-ing)
Disease usually caused by ingestion or inhalation of mercury or mercury compounds, which are toxic in relation to their ability to produce mercuric ions; acute mercury poisoning is associated with ulcerations of mouth (including loosening of teeth), stomach, and intestine in addition to toxic changes in the renal tubules; anuria and anemia may occur; respiratory distress and pneumonia can follow inhalation; chronic mercury poisoning is due to industrial pollution; causes gastrointestinal or central nervous system manifestations including stomatitis, diarrhea, headaches, ataxia, tremor, hyperreflexia, sensorineural impairment, and emotional instability and sometimes delirium.

mercury

a chemical element, atomic number 80, atomic weight 200.59, symbol Hg. See Table 6.
Mercury forms two sets or classes of compounds: mercurous, in which a single atom of mercury combines with a monovalent radical, and mercuric, in which a single atom of mercury combines with a bivalent radical. Mercury and its salts have been employed therapeutically as purgatives; as alternatives in chronic inflammations; and as intestinal antiseptics, disinfectants and astringents. They are absorbed by the skin and mucous membranes, causing chronic mercurial poisoning, or hydrargyria. The mercuric salts are more soluble and irritant than the mercurous. See also mercurous, mercuric.

ammoniated mercury
used as an antiseptic skin and ophthalmic ointment.
organic mercury
includes the fungistats phenylmercurials, ethyl and methyl mercurials, e.g. methoxyethylmercury silicate; poisonous to animals and cause unacceptable residues in animal products.
mercury plant
mercury poisoning
by inorganic compounds causes gastritis and kidney damage manifested by diarrhea and terminal uremia. Organic mercury compounds were until recently extensively used as fungistatic agents in stored grain. They cause poisoning manifested by nervous signs, including incoordination, blindness and recumbency. With larger doses there are convulsions.