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Reactive gaseous mercury is generated from chloralkali factories resulting in extreme concentrations of mercury in hair of workers
Elgazali, A., Z. Gajdosechova, Z. Abbas, E. Lombi, K. Scheckel, E. Donner, H. Fiedler, J. Feldmann, AND E. Krupp. Reactive gaseous mercury is generated from chloralkali factories resulting in extreme concentrations of mercury in hair of workers. Holly Else (ed.), NATURE. Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London, Uk, 8(3675):1-11, (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-20544-5
The present study was designed to address the formation of RGM within the facilities of a chloralkali plant. Chloralkali plants using Hg cell technology emitted globally over 28 t of Hg in 2010 exposing the surrounding environment and workers to high Hg pollution. We hypothesise that the observed high Hg concentrations in the hair of chloralkali workers are direct evidence of RGM adsorption on the hair surface caused by its rapid deposition within the plant environment rather than accumulation of Hg0 or dietary Hg species.
Occupational exposure of chloralkali workers to highly concentrated mercury (Hg) vapour has been linked to an increased risk of renal dysfunction and behavioural changes. It is generally believed that these workers are exposed to elemental Hg, which is used in abundance during the production process however, the lack in analytical techniques that would allow for identification of gaseous Hg species poses a challenge, which needs to be addressed in order to reach a consensus. Here, we present the results from simulated exposure studies, which provide sound evidence of higher adsorption rate of HgCl2 than Hg0 and its irreversible bonding on the surface of hair. We found that chloralkali workers were exposed to HgCl2, which accumulated in extremely high concentrations on the hair surface, more than 1,000 times higher than expected from unexposed subjects and was positively correlated with Hg levels in the finger- and toenails.