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Keywords:

  • ulcerative colitis;
  • mercury;
  • mercury vapor;
  • exposures;
  • electroplating;
  • electrician

Abstract

Background

After exposure to mercury vapor at three consecutive 10-month intervals, an electrician in an electroplating plant had flare-ups of ulcerative colitis within 24 hr, that subsided in several days, then returned upon re-exposure 10 months later.

Methods

The patient and his workplace were both evaluated for mercury exposure. In addition to workplace inspection, both personal and area monitoring for environmental mercury was performed, using both multiple mercury diffusion badges and direct (instantaneous) readings, during maintenance of mercury-filled electrical blocks.

Results

Eight-hour time weighted average (TWA) mercury vapor exposure was measured at 0.41 mg/m3 (ACGIH and NIOSH recommended TWA = 0.025 mg/m3; OSHA permissible exposure limit −0.1 mg/m3) for 5 years since stopping overexposure to mercury, the patient remained symptom free in clinical remission.

Conclusions

In a patient with chronic ulcerative colitis in remission, occupational exposure to mercury vapor led to episodes of disease reactivation. Am. J. Ind. Med. 49:499–502, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.