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Average Human Daily Dose of Mercury from Various Sources

According to World Health Organization Figures


World Health Organization, Environmental Health Criteria 118: Inorganic Mercury, Geneva, 1991.

Mercury Source Daily Exposure Form of Mercury
Dental amalgam 3.0-17.0 µg/day Hg vapor
Fish and Seafood 2.3 µg/day methylmercury
Other food 0.3 µg/day inorganic Hg
Air & Water Negligible traces  

NOTE: 1 µg = 1 microgram = 1 x 10-6 grams

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safety limits for mercury vapor exposure are 10 µg per day.  Numerous studies have shown that mercury amalgam fillings release anywhere from 1 to 29 µg/day, 3 times the limit.  The rate of mercury release from dental amalgam is dependent upon several factors including the number of amalgam restorations, the composition of the amalgam (high vs. low copper amalgam), the location (occlusal vs. nonocclusal teeth), and the amalgam surface area.

For more information on the release of mercury from dental amalgam fillings as well as the contribution of dental amalgam to the mercury body burden, please see Release of  Mercury from "Silver" Dental Amalgam


Mercury concentrations in urine and whole blood associated with amalgam exposure in a US military population.

Kingman A, Albertini T, Brown LJ.

J Dent Res 1998 Mar;77(3):461-71


Oral Health Promotion, Risk Factors and Molecular Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Dental Research, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

Minute amounts of mercury vapor are released from dental amalgams. Since mercury vapor is known to be associated with adverse health effects from occupationally exposed persons, questions regarding the margin of safety for exposure to mercury vapor in the general population continue to be raised. To address this issue, one needs information regarding exposure to mercury vapor from dental amalgam fillings and its possible consequences for health in the general population. The NIDR Amalgam Study is designed to obtain precise information on amalgam exposure and health outcomes for a non-occupationally-exposed population of US adults. One hypothesis was that in a generally healthy population a significant association between amalgam exposure and Hg levels in urine and/or whole blood could be detected. The cohort investigated was an adult military population of 1127 healthy males. Their average age was 52.8 years, and their ages varied from 40 to 78 years. Ninety-five percent of the study participants were white males, and slightly over 50% had some college education. Five percent were edentulous. The dentate participants, on average, had 25 natural teeth, 36.9 decayed or filled surfaces (DFS), and 19.9 surfaces exposed to amalgam, with amalgam exposure varying from 0 to 66 surfaces. Their average total and inorganic urinary mercury concentrations were 3.09 microg/L and 2.88 microg/L. The average whole-blood total and inorganic mercury concentrations were 2.55 microg/L and 0.54 microg/L. Significant correlations were detected between amalgam exposure and the total (r = 0.34, p < 0.001) and inorganic 0.34 (r = 0.34, p < 0.001) urinary mercury concentrations on the original scale. Stronger correlations were found for total (r = 0.44, p < 0.001) and inorganic (r = 0.41, p < 0.001) urinary Hg on the log scale, as well as for creatinine-corrected total (r = 0.43, p < 0.001) and inorganic (r = 0.43, p < 0.001) urine concentrations. In whole blood, statistically significant, but biologically weak, correlations were detected for total (r = 0.09, p = 0.005) and inorganic (r = 0.15, p < 0.001) Hg concentrations, respectively. Based on these cross-sectional data, it is estimated that, on average, each ten-surface increase in amalgam exposure is associated with an increase of 1 microg/L mercury in urine concentration.

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