Imperial Collage Healthcare

Mercury


Test Background
Trace elements can be essential or toxic. Trace element toxicity can occur as a result of occupational exposure, environmental exposure or iatrogenic toxicity. Any organ can be affected: the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, muscles or circulatory system. All elements can be toxic in excess. Those most commonly associated with toxicity include: aluminium, lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, thallium, barium, germanium, tellurium, tin, antimony, osmium and uranium. Inorganic and organic compounds of mercury are widely used as antibacterial and antifungal agents in the form of liquids, powders and paints. The kidney is the major target organ for inorganic mercury following absorption, with renal tubular necrosis and glomerulonephritis typically the result.


Clinical Indications

  • Presentation of pneumonitis, kidney failure, pulmonary oedema, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting (acute – high concentrations)
  • Presentation of gingivitis and stomatitis with excessive salivation, headaches and CNS effects, such as tremor and personality changes (chronic – low dose/concentration)


Reference Range

EDTA : <20 nmol/L
24 hour urine collection : <50 nmol/24 h
Random urine : <5 nmol/mmol creatinine


Sample Required
Blood: EDTA (lavender top)
Urine: random sample or 24 hour collection


Sample Volume
Blood: 0.5 mL
Random urine: 2 mL
or 24 hour collection


Turnaround Time
2 weeks


Notes
Symptoms may be dependent on precise source, ie. inhaled vapour, salts and organic sources. Other than occupational exposure mercury is also present in button batteries, thermometers and agricultural products.

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