Thursday, 28 January 2016

Levels and potential health risks of mercury in prescription, non-prescription medicines and dietary supplements in Poland


We investigated concentrations of Hg in the prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs and dietary supplements.
We conclude that the analyzed pharmaceuticals do not pose a threat to the human health.
We determined the highest concentration of mercury (476.1 ng g−1) in one of the tested prescription drugs.


Determination of mercury is important in the case of pharmaceuticals for which the European Union regulations have not defined the maximum permissible concentration of this metal. The aim of the study was to determine the levels of mercury in the following groups of drugs (n = 119): analgesics, diuretics, cardiacs, antihypertensives, anti-influenza, antibiotics, anti-allergics, tranquilizers, antibacterials and in dietary supplements (n = 33) available on the Polish market. Mercury was analyzed using cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry CV-AFS. Its content in the samples varied in the range of 0.9–476.1 ng g−1. Higher mercury concentrations were reported for prescription drugs (Rx): 0.9–476.1 ng g−1 (median: 7.4 ng g−1), lower – for non-prescription medicines (OTC): 1.2–45.8 ng g−1 (median: 6.0 ng g−1). In the analyzed dietary supplements the concentrations were: 0.9–16.7 ng g−1 (median: 5.9 ng g−1). On the basis of the information contained in the leaflet accompanying the medicine, a daily dose of mercury taken into the body with an analyzed medicament was estimated and the health risk posed by using such medicines was assessed. The study indicates that it is justified to carry out measurements of mercury in pharmaceuticals due to its high, potentially harmful.


  • Mercury;
  • Drugs;
  • Dietary supplements;
  • CV-AFS
Corresponding author.