Scottish Trace Element & Micronutrient Reference Laboratory

Scotland's specialised laboratory for trace elements and vitamins in health and disease

Mercury Monitoring for Dental Staff

For several years, staff in dental practices throughout Scotland have been invited at three- to four-yearly intervals to participate in a mercury monitoring service. In this scheme, dental staff were invited to supply a head hair sample and, if the mercury concentration was high, a more detailed screen including fingernail, toenail, pubic hair and urine samples was recommended. The data accumulated over the years of this service has recently been reviewed*. In the last five years 1.1% of staff screened had a full mercury assessment carried out because of a raised head hair mercury. In all cases the cause of the raised head hair mercury was found to be due to external contamination with no cases of mercury exposure being identified. In view of these findings, invitations to participate in this scheme haveno longer be sent since 2011. However, if any dental staff has a concern about possible mercury exposure, the analytical service will continue to be available.

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