Mercury – a highly toxic element

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Elżbieta Król-Pakulska, Cezary Pakulski

4 (53) 2017 s. 510–515
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Fraza do cytowania: Król-Pakulska E., Pakulski C. Mercury – a highly toxic element. Polski Przegląd Nauk o Zdrowiu. 2017;4(53):510–515.

Mercury has fascinated people since time immemorial. Interest in this element is associated with its specific nature: the multitude of its forms, and great volatility and mobility in the environment. Mercury is classified as a highly toxic heavy metal. It is not known to fulfil any biological role, while at the same time it is toxic for all living organisms. Next to environmental pollution and occupational exposure to mercury vapour, food is the main source of human exposure to mercury. The highest levels of total mercury are found in fish and seafood, mushrooms growing in the wild, as well as some food supplements. The use of mercury as a preservative in the production of vaccines, some ointments and medicines has given rise to controversy for many years. This study presents the actual role that mercury compounds play in generating the phenomenon of toxicity, with special reference to the problem of the mercury content in food and the use of mercury in medicine.

Key words: mercury, toxicity, thiomersal, food, vaccine.

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