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Tissue levels of mercury in autopsy specimens of liver and kidney

By L. Magos, F. Bakir, T. W. Clarkson, A. M. Al-Jawad and M. H. Al-Soffi


Fifty-one autopsy specimens of liver were analysed for total mercury. Thirteen specimens contained less than 10 mg/kg of mercury, with a minimum value of 1.4 mg/kg, indicating that death in suspected cases was not always due to lethal exposure to methylmercury. The methylmercury concentration in 28 livers was 10-30 mg/kg. Limited additional estimations have shown that 71% of the liver mercury was organic and that the level of mercury in the liver of a 7-month-old fetus was only 25% of that in the liver of the mother. In a patient who died in hospital with a blood mercury level of 4.1 μg/ml, the liver contained 16.5 mg/kg of mercury

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