Laboratory exposure to dimethylmercury

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Mercury caused another tragic event in Hanover, New Hampshire. The story of Dartmouth College chemistry professor Karen E. Wetterhahn made national headlines when she died at the age of 48 from exposure to dimethylmercury (DMM). In August 1996, Wetterhahn, an expert on toxic metals, was re

Laboratory exposure to dimethylmercury
Mercury caused another tragic event in Hanover, New Hampshire. The story of Dartmouth College chemistry professor Karen E. Wetterhahn made national headlines when she died at the age of 48 from exposure to dimethylmercury (DMM). In August 1996, Wetterhahn, an expert on toxic metals, was receiving a $7 million federal grant. Study toxic metals. She was poisoned in the lab by a drop of the experimental mercury compound DMM, which accidentally seeped into her latex gloves and seeped into her skin. Symptoms gradually started to appear like the stomach flu, but then she started hitting doors and suddenly falling. Speech became difficult, her hands stung, and she was admitted to the emergency room 5 months after the spill. dimethylmercury Symptoms progressed rapidly: By the end of the week, she was unable to walk, her speech was slurred, and her hands were shaking. Mercury poisoning was diagnosed and treatment began, but little was known about the rare man-made chemical DMM, a colorless liquid that looked like water but was three times heavier and far more toxic than other forms of mercury. Dr. Wetterhahn became ill in January 1997 and was hospitalized. She soon fell into a coma and died in June of that year. As a result of her tragedy, safety standards for gloves and other protective equipment were revised, and a movement began to eliminate the production and use of this most deadly form of mercury. The first indication of DMM's extreme toxicity was recorded in 1863, when two laboratory assistants died of DMM poisoning while synthesizing DMM in the Frankland and Duppa laboratories. Another incident of DMM poisoning occurred in 1972, when a Czech chemist developed similar symptoms to Dr. Wetterhahn and also died.

Mercury exists in the environment in different chemical forms. The most important chemical forms of mercury are elemental mercury (Hg0), inorganic mercury (Hg2+), monomethylmercury (MMHg, CH3Hg+), and dimethylmercury (DMHg, CH3HgCH3). These species may all be interchanged in atmospheric, aquatic, and terrestrial environments, shaping biogeochemical cycles of mercury in biota. 1 The main route of human exposure to mercury is through the consumption of marine fishery products (fish, shellfish, crustaceans); mercury exists mainly in methylated forms (MMHg and DMHg) and is found in the edible parts of fishery products at levels exceeding 1200 ng g−1.2 MMHg is the major organic mercury and the most toxic species of mercury. The ecological and human health effects of mercury are often related to the conversion of inorganic mercury into the toxic and readily biomagnified MMHg (biomagnified 105-107 times in predatory fish) in the environment. 2 MMHg is efficiently adsorbed from water. gastrointestinal tract, and across the blood-brain barrier and placental barrier. Therefore, mercury speciation analysis is mainly performed in air, water, sediment, soil and fish samples, with MMHg being by far the most interesting mercury species.

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