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Volatilization of Mercury by Bacteria

L. Magos, A. A. Tuffery and T. W. Clarkson
British Journal of Industrial Medicine
Vol. 21, No. 4 (Oct., 1964), pp. 294-298
Published by: BMJ
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27721977
Page Count: 5
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Volatilization of Mercury by Bacteria
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Abstract

Volatilization of mercury has been observed from various biological media (tissue homogenates, infusion broth, plasma, urine) containing mercuric chloride. That micro-organisms were responsible was indicated by the finding that the rates of volatilization were highly variable, that a latent period often preceded volatilization, that toluene inhibited the process, and that the capacity to volatilize mercury could be transferred from one biological medium to another. Two species of bacteria when isolated and cultured from these homogenates were able to volatilize mercury. Two other bacteria, one of which was isolated from the local water supply, were also highly active. The volatile mercury was identified as mercury vapour. The importance of these findings in relation to the storage of urine samples prior to mercury analysis is discussed.

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