Mercury Toxicity Through the Annals of Time

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 11:15 AM


Mercury has a long history of poisoning and killing throughout human civilization. Here are some

moments that stand out:
  • Mercury was thought to be the elixir of life in China during the reign of the first emperor Qin. It was thought to extend the natural processes of life, heal bones and wounds. According to The History of China written by David Curtis Wright, The first emperor died drinking mercury mixed in a cocktail intended to preserve his health. 
  • The Greeks, Egyptians and Romans used mercury in their make-up even though it would cause all sorts of facial distortions.
  • In the Americas, as far back as 1,400 BC, reports of exposure to mercury (due to mining) caused tremors, blindness, deafness and agonizing deaths. Later, Spanish settlers in the Americas, used the indigenous population and their own prisons as mercury mining slave labor. Large numbers of these laborers shortly died of multiple symptoms we now know are attributed to mercury exposure.
  • There are reports from the Renaissance describing the illnesses brought on by mercury exposure and denouncing the lack of safety while mining it.
  • Just a few years ago, actress Daphne Zuniga and Jeremy Piven publicly announced they’d been showing symptoms of mercury toxicity and traced it back to a large consumption of fish.

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