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Dental Amalgam and Mercury Levels in Autopsy Tissues: Food for Thought

Guzzi, Gianpaolo DDS*; Grandi, Marco MD; Cattaneo, Cristina PhD; Calza, Stefano MSc§; Minoia, Claudio BSc; Ronchi, Anna BSc; Gatti, Anna BSc; Severi, Gianluca PhD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2006 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 42-45
doi: 10.1097/01.paf.0000201177.62921.c8
Original Article

Eighteen cadavers from routine autopsy casework were subject to a study of tissue levels of total mercury in brain, thyroid, and kidney samples by atomic absorption. On these same cadavers, all dental amalgam fillings (the most important source of inorganic mercury exposure in the general population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) were charted. Total mercury levels were significantly higher in subjects with a greater number of occlusal amalgam surfaces (>12) compared with those with fewer occlusal amalgams (0-3) in all types of tissue (all P ≤ 0.04). Mercury levels were significantly higher in brain tissues compared with thyroid and kidney tissues in subjects with more than 12 occlusal amalgam fillings (all P ≤ 0.01) but not in subjects with 3 or less occlusal amalgams (all P ≥ 0.07).

From the *Italian Association for Metals and Biocompatibility Research (AIRMEB), Milan, Italy; †Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; ‡Laboratory of Environmental and Toxicology Testing “S. Maugeri” (IRCCS), Pavia, Italy; §Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy; and the ∥Cancer Epidemiology Centre, the Cancer Council, Victoria, Australia.

Manuscript received October 5, 2004; accepted November 15, 2005.

Reprints: Cristina Cattaneo, Istituto di Medicina Legale, Università degli Studi, Via Mangiagalli, 37, 20133 Milano, Italy. E-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.