Mercury:

There are many different heavy metals that we are constantly being exposed to. A few of the more dangerous heavy metals include arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, chromium and of course mercury. For today’s article, we are going to investigate mercury more indepthly. Mercury is the most toxic non-radioactive element known and unfortunately many are exposed to it through things as simple as drinking water and eating marine animals ie fish. Mercury is released into the environment by the activities of various industries such as pharmaceuticals, paper and pulp preservatives, agriculture industry, and chlorine and caustic soda production industries (Morais et al., 2012)1. Mercury is extensively used in thermometers, barometers, pyrometers, hydrometers, mercury arc lamps, fluorescent lamps and as a catalyst. It is also being used in pulp and paper industries, as a component of batteries and in dental preparations such as amalgams1. Mercury poisoning can come in many different side effects and because of this diagnosing mercury poisoning is actually quite challenging. Side effects of mercury exposure can vary anywhere from shyness, tremors, memory problems, irritability, and changes in vision or hearing1. Exposure to metallic mercury vapors at higher levels for shorter periods of time can lead to lung damage, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, skin rashes, increased heart rate or blood pressure1. Symptoms of organic mercury poisoning include depression, memory problems, tremors, fatigue, headache, hair loss, etc1. Many of these can be associated with other types of diseases or issues and saying that they are strictly from mercury poisoning is challenging to say the least. One question as to why there are so many types of side effects is because mercury directly relates to the nervous system. The nervous system is very sensitive to all types of mercury1. Exposure to elevated levels of metallic, organic and inorganic mercury can damage the brain, kidneys and the developing fetus (Alina et al., 2012). Mercury is present in most foods and beverages in the range <1 to 50 μg/kg1. The body tries to do its very best of getting rid of these heavy metals and mercury in particular can be excreted from the body via sweat, urine, feces, saliva and bile1. Therefore staying hydrated with clean water, sweating through exercise and or use of a sauna and having normal bowel and bladder functioning can help combat these deadly metals from accumulating in the body.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4427717/ Opens in new window