Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1980;6(3):188-196    pdf


Circadian rhythmicity of the urinary excretion of mercury, potassium and catecholamines in unconventional shift-work systems.

by Vokac Z, Gundersen N, Magnus P, Jebens E, Bakka T

The round the clock urinary excretion rates of mercury were assessed for two series of unconventional patterns of activity and sleep in subjects who were not exposed to occupational, medical, or other obvious sources of mercury. In the first series the urine was collected in 3-h periods from six subjects during the first and last 2 d of a four-week, continuous 6-h shift (car ferry, watches either 0800--1400 and 2000--0200 or 1400--2000 and 0200--0800). In the second series the urine was collected in 4-h periods from five subjects working an 8-h experimental rotation shift compressed into 5 d (work two mornings--8-h interval--work two nights--8-h interval--work two afternoons). The mean daily excretion rate of the 11 subjects (48 investigation days, 334 urine samples) was 14.5 pmol of mercury/min (range 5.5--24.4 pmol of mercury/min). The mercury excretion oscillated regularly during 24 h by +/- 20--25% of the individual`s daily mean excretion rates. The peak excretion rates were found at 0652 in the first and 0642 in the second series (cosinor treatment). Due to the circadian rhythm the mean 24-h excretion rates were best represented (correlation coefficient 0.92) by analyses of urine produced around noon (spot samples, collection periods 1100--1400 and 1000-1400, respectively). The circadian oscillations of mercury excretion were not influenced by the widely different and varying activity-sleep patterns of the two series. The rhythmicity of potassium excretion (peaks at around 1400) was more irregular. The stable oscillations of mercury excretion contrasted most with the excretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline, which, without losing the basic 24-h rhythmicity, closely followed the unconventional patterns of activity and sleep.