Dental amalgam in fillings exposes workers to mercury. The exposure to mercury was investigated among 1871 dental health care workers. The aim of the study was to evaluate the risk of mercury exposure among dental compared to nondental health care workers and to determine other risk factors for mercury exposure. Respondents answered questionnaires to obtain demographic, personal, professional, and workplace information and were examined for their own amalgam fillings. Chronic mercury exposure was assessed through urinary mercury levels. In total, 1409 dental and 462 nondental health care workers participated in the study. Median urine mercury levels for dental and nondental health care workers were 2.75 μg/L (interquartile range [IQR] = 3.0175) and 2.66 μg/L (IQR = 3.04) respectively. For mercury exposure, there were no significant risk factor found among the workers involved within the dental care. The Mann-Whitney test showed that urine mercury levels were significantly different between respondents who eat seafood more than 5 times per week compared to those who eat it less frequently or not at all (p = 0.003). The urinary mercury levels indicated significant difference between dental workers in their practice using squeeze cloths (Mann-Whitney test, p = 0.03). Multiple logistic regression showed that only the usage of cosmetic products that might contain mercury was found to be significantly associated with the urinary mercury levels (odds ratio [OR] = 15.237; CI: 3.612-64.276). Therefore, mean urinary mercury levels of health care workers were low. Exposure to dental amalgam is not associated with high mercury exposure. However, usage of cosmetic products containing mercury and high seafood consumption may lead to the increase of exposure to mercury.
IMPLICATIONS: Exposure to the high levels of mercury from dental amalgam can lead to serious health effects among the dental health care workers. Nationwide chronic mercury exposure among dental personnel was assessed through urinary mercury levels. Findings suggest low urinary mercury levels of these health care workers. Exposure to dental amalgam is not associated with high mercury exposure. However, the usage of cosmetic products containing mercury and high seafood consumption may lead to the increase of exposure to mercury.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.