The toxicology of mercury: Current research and emerging trends

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Abstract

Mercury (Hg) is a persistent bio-accumulative toxic metal with unique physicochemical properties of public health concern since their natural and anthropogenic diffusions still induce high risk to human and environmental health. The goal of this review was to analyze scientific literature evaluating the role of global concerns over Hg exposure due to human exposure to ingestion of contaminated seafood (methyl-Hg) as well as elemental Hg levels of dental amalgam fillings (metallic Hg), vaccines (ethyl-Hg) and contaminated water and air (Hg chloride). Mercury has been recognized as a neurotoxicant as well as immunotoxic and designated by the World Health Organization as one of the ten most dangerous chemicals to public health. It has been shown that the half-life of inorganic Hg in human brains is several years to several decades. Mercury occurs in the environment under different chemical forms as elemental Hg (metallic), inorganic and organic Hg. Despite the raising understanding of the Hg toxicokinetics, there is still fully justified to further explore the emerging theories about its bioavailability and adverse effects in humans. In this review, we describe current research and emerging trends in Hg toxicity with the purpose of providing up-to-date information for a better understanding of the kinetics of this metal, presenting comprehensive knowledge on published data analyzing its metabolism, interaction with other metals, distribution, internal doses and targets, and reservoir organs.

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