International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

, Volume 80, Issue 5, pp 381–387

Effects of mercury vapor exposure on neuromotor function in Chinese miners and smelters

  • Toyoto Iwata
  • Mineshi Sakamoto
  • Xinbin Feng
  • Minoru Yoshida
  • Xiao-Jie Liu
  • Miwako Dakeishi
  • Ping Li
  • Guangle Qiu
  • Hongmei Jiang
  • Masaaki Nakamura
  • Katsuyuki Murata
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00420-006-0144-1

Cite this article as:
Iwata, T., Sakamoto, M., Feng, X. et al. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2007) 80: 381. doi:10.1007/s00420-006-0144-1

Abstract

Objectives

Current risk assessment of elemental mercury vapor is based on the tremor toxicity. To clarify the neuromotor effects of occupational exposure to mercury vapor, hand tremor and postural sway were measured in 27 miners and smelters (i.e., exposed workers) and 52 unexposed subjects.

Methods

Urine samples were collected and total mercury and creatinine concentrations were determined. Data of the tremor and postural sway were analyzed using the fast Fourier transformation.

Results

The geometric means of the urinary mercury level (UHg) were 228 (range 22.6–4,577) μg/g creatinine for the exposed workers and 2.6 (1.0–17.4) μg/g creatinine for the unexposed subjects. Total tremor intensity and frequency-specific tremor intensities at 1–6 and 10–14 Hz were significantly larger in the exposed workers than in the unexposed subjects (P < 0.05), but they were not significantly related to the UHg among the exposed workers (P > 0.05). In contrast, there were no significant differences in any postural sway parameters between the above two groups (P > 0.05), but the transversal sway with eyes open was positively related to the UHg among the exposed workers in using multiple regression analysis (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

These findings suggest that postural sway, as well as hand tremor, may be affected by elemental mercury vapor exposure, but the former test seems to be less sensitive to mercury than the latter one.

Keywords

Elemental mercury vaporNeuromotor functionTremorPostural swayMining and smelting worksRisk assessment

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toyoto Iwata
    • 1
  • Mineshi Sakamoto
    • 2
  • Xinbin Feng
    • 3
  • Minoru Yoshida
    • 4
  • Xiao-Jie Liu
    • 2
  • Miwako Dakeishi
    • 1
  • Ping Li
    • 3
  • Guangle Qiu
    • 3
  • Hongmei Jiang
    • 3
  • Masaaki Nakamura
    • 2
  • Katsuyuki Murata
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health SciencesAkita University School of MedicineAkitaJapan
  2. 2.National Institute for Minamata DiseaseMinamataJapan
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of Geochemistry Chinese Academy of SciencesGuiyangPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Faculty of Human Health ScienceHachinohe UniversityHachinoheJapan