Carcinogenicity of mercury and mercury compounds

P. Boffetta, E. Merler, H. Vainio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Mercury and mercury compounds are widely used in modern society, but only sparse data are available on their carcinogenicity. Methylmercury chloride causes kidney tumors in male mice. Mercury chloride has shown some carcinogenic activity in male rats, but the evidence for female rats and male mice is equivocal. Other mercury compounds and metallic mercury have not been tested adequately in experimental animals. Epidemiologic data are available for chloralkali workers, dentists and dental nurses, and nuclear weapons workers, three groups occupationally exposed to low levels of mercury and its compounds, but those highly exposed in the past, such as miners, or populations which have suffered massive environmental exposure have not been adequately studied. However, the sparse epidemiologic data point toward the possibility of a risk of lung, kidney, and central nervous system tumors. Better data are needed on the carcinogenicity of mercury and mercury compounds in humans and experimental animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Central nervous system
  • Chloralkali workers
  • Kidney
  • Lung
  • Methyl mercury
  • Neoplasms
  • Review


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