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Measuring mercury: Common test may overestimate exposure from dental amalgam fillings
Date:3/20/2013

ury from fish that undergoes a type of chemical breakdown in the body called demethylation. The demethylated mercury from fish contributes significantly to the amount of inorganic mercury in the urine.

The U-M scientists relied on a natural phenomenon called isotopic fractionation to distinguish between the two types of mercury. All atoms of a particular element contain the same number of protons in their nuclei. However, a given element can have various forms, known as isotopes, each with a different number of neutrons in it nucleus.

Mercury has seven stable (nonradioactive) isotopes. During isotopic fractionation, different mercury isotopes react to form new compounds at slightly different rates. The U-M researchers relied on a type of isotopic fractionation called mass-independent fractionation to obtain the chemical fingerprints that enabled them to distinguish between exposure to methylmercury from fish and mercury vapor from dental amalgam fillings.


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Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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