Assessment of reference values for mercury in urine: The results of an Italian polycentric study

P. Apostoli, I. Cortesi, A. Mangili, G. Elia, I. Drago, T. Gagliardi, L. Soleo, T. Valente, G. F. Sciarra, C. Aprea, A. Ronchi, C. Minoia

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The results of a polycentric study to assess the reference values of urinary mercury (U-Hg) in four Italian cities are presented. A total of 383 subjects were selected on the basis of standardised criteria by a questionnaire on personal habits, lifestyle, occupational or non-occupational exposure to Hg, medical history, number and area of dental amalgams. U-Hg was determined by hydride generation atomic absorption method (HG-AAS), with a detection limit of 0.5 μg/l and by flow injection (FI) inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), with a detection limit of 0.03 μg/l. The median value of U-Hg, determined by HG-AAS, was 0.78 μg/g creatinine (0.75 for males and 0.83 for females), with 5° and 95° percentiles, respectively, of 0.17 and 3.66 μg/g creatinine. When determined by FI ICP-MS, the median value was 0.79 μg/ g creatinine (0.77 for males and 0.79 for females) with 5° and 95° percentiles of, respectively, 0.12 and 5.02 μg/g creatinine. Among the independent variables, city of origin, area of dental amalgams, fish intake and tobacco smoking significantly influenced the U-Hg levels. The U-Hg reference values from this survey are lower than those from other recent investigations, probably due to characteristics and selection of the examined individuals and to the strict control of pre-analytical and analytical factors of variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 22 2002


  • ICP-HS
  • Mercury
  • References values
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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