Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Economics of Mercury Toxicity




While the United States was one of the largest culprits when it came to global mercury pollution, up and coming industrial countries, China and India, are now the main antagonists. The U.S. has cut their mercury emissions down by 65 percent in the last decade or two by adhering to the Clean Air Act and other EPA recommendations, China and India have ramped up their production of the main sources for mercury pollution: coal fired power plants, boilers, incinerators, steel and cement production. It is booming business, baby, and developing countries are doing what they need to do to get skin in the global market. What better way then to mimic the practices used by the world economic powers during their Industrial Revolution. Coal productions is plenty and cheap. If we can get developing countries to mine mercury and produce all of the raw materials we in the “first” world need for our essential and non-necessary products…why wouldn’t we? How would we even began to chide or guide these nations when our hands are coated with many layers of blood?

Mercury Toxicity Through the Annals of Time


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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mercury and Animals



Last week I wrote about mercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan. The disease was referred to as the "disease of the dancing cats" because the domesticated cats also suffered from the strange behavior and convulsions experienced by the human patients (source).

Today, mercury is still harming animals, particularly wildlife. Any species which relies primarily on fish or seafood for food is particularly at risk.

Today, BBC News reported on the findings of biologists at the University of Saskatchewan. According to the research, the amount of mercury detected in the ivory gull has increased 45 fold over the last 130 years (source).

Although this study focused specifically on this species of gull, it seems likely that the impact on other species of sea birds with similar diets is comparable.

This study has a major implications on the state of the health of the environment and many endangered or threatened species. Since the ivory gull has a diet and geographic range similar to the polar bear, for example, further research may find similar results in other species (source).


Omega-3 Alternatives

Omega-3 is highly essential for the development and healthy function of the human brain. While important for adults, it is imperative for children’s brain development. While sea food is part of a normal balanced diet, mercury isn’t. Mercury is found in various levels in different types of fish, and consumption can be limited by portion sizing. See our website’s page on Portion Sizing for more information.
A common misconception is that Omega-3 is only found in fish and other sea food items. This is incorrect. There are many non-fish, and even some vegetarian options to consume a good amount of Omega-3 for healthy brain development and function. Some of those options are as follows: walnuts, olive oil, flax seeds, vegetarian Omega-3 supplements, and some grass fed meats and eggs (fortified). Consulting with your physician is important to choose the best option for your individual (and family) health.



Sources:

Tessa Schwass

Diet Related Mercury Poisoning Results in Visual Loss

When I think of something that I don't want to happen to me, it often revolves around the eyes. I hate eye things! That is why this article about a guy who suffers from mercury poisoning is so scary:
A 36‐year‐old man with progressive peripheral neuropathies was referred to the eye clinic with failing visual acuity. No cause could be found for his ongoing weight loss, poor appetite, disturbed sleep and worsening painful neuropathies after extensive investigations. Blood tests identified a markedly raised mercury concentration, and further inquiries identified his diet to be rich in fish caught in the Caribbean. Tests carried out on the fish he provided showed a high concentration of mercury in the tissue. Electrophysiology showed changes consistent with published reports on patients regularly exposed to high levels of mercury. 
A 36‐year‐old man was referred to the neuro‐ophthalmology clinic with a 3‐month history of deteriorating vision, with difficulty in reading. He was also being investigated by the neurology service for peripheral neuropathies. He had an 8‐month history of numbness and tingling in both feet and in his fingertips. He had been generally unwell, with poor appetite, weight loss of one and a half stones, diarrhoea, low‐energy levels and disturbed sleep. He smoked five cigarettes a day and denied any intravenous drug misuse. He had no medical history or family history of note. There was no family history of consanguinity. 
On examination, his best‐corrected vision was 6/18 in the right eye and 6/24 in the left. 


Please read the full article above as it goes into what he experiences deeper. Mercury poisoning is a serious issue for many reasons, but vision is such a precious, taken for granted, tool of the human body. It's hard to believe it could be taken away just by eating too much red snapper.

Be sure to check the blog post below for our new website on Mercury Toxicity as well. http://mercurytox.weebly.com

Sunday, March 15, 2015

MercuryTox Website

We have spent the last several weeks sharing our findings, insights and concerns about the toxic levels of mercury in fish. We’ve covered mercury as an element, mercury as an organic unit, and how mercury effects our bodies. We have also shared ways to prevent further mercury pollution of our air, water systems, food sources, and our own bodies. Included in the recent posts are resources to take a stand, and resources with information available to assist us in making changes in our own lives.

Finally, we have also completed our website, available 24/7, with information about mercury, the cycle of mercury on the Earth, and solutions to protect yourself, your family and friends, and the planet from continued careless contamination.

The website also provides information about correct portion sizing and gives resources for selecting the appropriate types of fish for your family.

Yes, we understand that mercury is a natural part of nature, but we have a responsibility to prevent the large scale, reckless spread of this hazardous element across the globe, and a responsibility to educate ourselves and others about the dangers we subject ourselves and our children to when we make contaminated seafood a part of our regular diet.

Please check out our website http://mercurytox.weebly.com/ for more information.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fish Consumption Frequency


I created this info graphic that includes information about the safe frequency of eating certain fish from specific water bodies in Oregon. It's important to realize that the amount of fish a pregnant woman or children eat varies from what everyone else can eat to avoid mercury poisoning.

The Oregon health authority keeps the levels of mercury and others contaminants up to date as much as possible. With mercury level on the rise in Oregon it's crucial to know which fish is safe to eat. We should be informed about the source of the fish we buy, the safety and the frequency of consumption.

To stay up to date and to find out about specific areas please refer to the link below.
Link:
https://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/Recreation/FishConsumption/Pages/fishadvisories.aspx

ALTERNATIVES OF FISH LOW IN MERCURY FOR PREGNANT WOMEN AND PARENTS TO EAT!




The FDA and the EPA has just announced they intend to revise their joint information concerning fish consumption advice. They want to encourage pregnant women, those who have become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and young children to eat more fish and to eat a variety of fish from choices that have a considerable less amount of levels in mercury.

Doing extensive research I have complied all the information necessary to limit large amounts of mercury for consumption in the fish you eat. Please take the time to look over alternative choices that are safe to eat and please feel free to print these out and begin to change your lifestyle by incorporating these safe alternative choices of fish that are safe to eat. This information was complied from nyc.gov and is now provided directly to you.





ALTERNATIVES OF FISH 

SAFE TO EAT FOR 

MOTHERS AND CHILDREN



http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/edp/mercury_brochure.pdf


Friday, March 13, 2015

What to Expect if you get poisoned by Mercury

WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU ARE POISONED BY MERCURY

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patients vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

ELEMENTAL MERCURY
Inhaling elemental mercury poisoning is difficult to treat. The patient should receive:

  • Humidified oxygen or air
  • Breathing tube into the lungs
  • Suctioning mercury out of the lungs
  • Medication to remove mercury and heavy metals from the body

INORGANIC MERCURY
For inorganic mercury poisoning, treatment usually begins with your support. The patient should receive:

  • Fluids by IV (into a vein)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Activated charcoal, a medicine that soaks up many substances from the stomach
  • Medicines called chelators to remove mercury from the blood

ORGANIC MERCURY
Receiving Treatment for organic mercury consists of medicines called chelators to remove mercury from the blood and away from the brain and kidneys. Often, these medications will have to be used for weeks to months.

If you feel you have been poisoned it is important to receive the correct information necessary to get treatment right away.



BEFORE CALLING EMERGENCY

Determine the following information:

  • Patents age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed, inhaled, or touched
  • Amount swallowed, inhaled, or touched
DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.


POISON CONTROL

In the United States, please call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a local poison control center. This hotline will let you speak with experts in poisoning and will give you further instructions.
FEELING SICK CALL US AT
 (1-800-222-1222
 )

This is a free and confidential service. Please call if you have any questions about mercury poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency we are here to help 
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


PROGNOSIS

Breathing in small amounts of elemental mercury will cause very few, if any, long-term side effects. However, larger amounts will ensure a long hospital stay. Permanent lung and brain damage is emanate. Very large exposures will cause death.

A large overdose of inorganic mercury may cause massive blood and fluid loss, kidney failure, and death.

Chronic brain damage from organic mercury is difficult to treat. Although some people never recover, limited success has been described in patients treated with chelation.


REFERENCES

Young-Jin S. Mercury. In: Goldfrank LR, Flomenbaum NE, Lewin NA, et al, eds. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies . 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 
2006:chap 96.

Bird TD. Dementia. In: Fauci AS, Harrison TR, eds. Harrison 's Principles of Internal Medicine . 17th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2008:chap 365.

Baum CR. Mercury: Heavy metals and inorganic agents. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose . 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 71.










Types of Toxins

Mercury toxins is an obvious toxin that severely affects the gastrointestinal, renal organ systems, and neurological system. It often happes through absorption through skin to skin contacts with something involving the toxin. There are 3 definite forms of mercury that are well known and they are:
  1. Elemental Mercury
  2. Inorganic Salts
  3. Organic Compounds
The most deadly form of mercury toxins seems to be methyercury. Through this it’s consumes throughout the lungs and the bloodstream. They come through food chain. This happens through consumption of a great amount of fish that are contaminated with dirty water that they lived in. 

For so many years, mercury was part of medicine for many different cultures and helped with much amount of pain.  



Source:

3 forms of Mercury that can cause health problems!

A new research done by A.D.A.M. Consumer Health, which is the most credible source of health care information and interactive tools for hospitals and health care organizations. Has created a comprehensive detailed look at the 3 form of Mercury and the symptoms and effect on people they can cause. The first of the three forms  is Elemental of Mercury, also known as liquid mercury or quick silver. The second is Inorganic mercury salts. And lastly is Organic mercury. According to A.D.A.M. study they have found that Elemental Mercury is harmless if swallowed or touched by people. When applied on human skin Elemental Mercury is so thick and dense it slips right off the skin to the ground. When or if ingested into our bodies our stomachs do not absorb it into our bodies. 


Whenever in contact with any forms of Mercury do not attempt to clean it up because it can cause serious help problems. However once airborne Elemental Mercury can damage lungs and cause death if too much has been breathed or inhaled.  These Symptoms are very acute and will also occur over time (chronic) if little amounts are inhaled every day. Symptoms  that Elemental Mercury may cause are as follows:



EFFECTS OF ELEMENTAL MERCURY

EFFECTS OF INORGANIC MERCURY

Unlike elemental mercury, inorganic mercury is usually poisonous when swallowed. Depending on the how much is swallowed, symptoms may cause:

  • Burning in the stomach and throat
  • Bloody diarrhea 
  • vomiting

If inorganic mercury enters your blood stream, it can attack the kidneys and brain. Permanent kidney damage and failure may occur. A large overdose may cause massive blood and fluid loss from diarrhea, kidney failure, and death.

EFFECTS OF ORGANIC MERCURY

Organic mercury can cause sickness if inhaled, eaten, or placed on the skin for long periods of time. Usually organic mercury causes problems over years or decades, not immediately. In other words, being exposed to small amounts of organic mercury every day for years will likely cause symptoms to appear later. Regardless, a single large exposure can also cause problems. Long-term exposure will likely cause neurological symptoms, including:

  • Numbness or pain in certain parts of your skin
  • Uncontrollable shake or tremor
  • Inability to walk well
  • Blindness and double vision
  • Memory problems
  • Seizures and death (with large exposures)

The Medical evidence A.D.A.M. has provided shows us being exposed to large amounts of the organic mercury called methyl mercury, while pregnant can permanently damage to the baby’s developing brain. Please be extremely cautious when choosing the right kinds of fish to feed to you and your family. Small exposures are unlikely to cause any problems. An finally if you have other concerns talk to your Doctor further before making any decision you are uncomfortable with.


Diagonosis?!?!

With all the talk of mercury, what it can do to us if we are affected by it, the question remains of the getting the proper diagnosis.  Mercury poisoning is difficult for physicians to diagnose, the reason being that the symptoms are like that of many other diseases that a doctor will most likely look to first.  This issue raises a question that we should all hold close:  how do we know we are poisoned if our doctors have trouble figuring that out?  It might seem like a tough question to answer, but the solution is a simple one:  pay attention to what you are around and eating, and tell your doctor that info!  This can save your life as a doctor cannot make the proper diagnosis with the appropriate information.  Mercury has many different symptoms depending on how it enters your body, if it is inhaled through fumes the poisoning will have the symptoms of the flu at first.  Thankfully and unfortunately the most common way that someone gets mercury poisoning is through organic mercury through fish.  This as we have discussed before, is a nervous system issue.  Once again though, an uninformed doctor will be looking at other diseases before turning to mercury, and that is only after doing a blood test to test for toxins in the body.

So what are the most basic of steps that you should take?  The first and foremost step is the obvious, be knowledgeable of what fish you are eating and the mercury content of that fish.  There are many websites out there that give this info, a great one being from the FDA which can be located here.  The other most important task that you can do for yourself is to keep track of what you are eating when you start developing these symptoms and to communicate your life habits with your physician.  As I stated above, an uninformed physician will not be able to catch mercury poisoning as one that has at least a few clues to your eating and daily habits.  Lastly, keep a look at the other people around you that share the same lifestyle, if they are showing similar symptoms as yourself, it can help point to the problem.  As always, paying attention is the key to detecting problems before they become a lifelong issue that you have to deal with.

Consumers Advice Reducing Exposures to Methyl-Mercury in the fish we eat

In recent years the EPA and FDA have gathered collaborative information and advice on methyl-mercury in 2004 on shellfish and fish. The most important advice was for women that are pregnant; women who have become pregnant; such as nursing mothers; and young children to stay away from eating these types of fish because of high levels of Methyl-Mercury. By following expert recommendations, women and young children will continue to thrive and stay healthy and receive the benefits from eating shellfish and fish and can feel good that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of methyl-mercury. The U.S. States Government also issued advisories to limit and avoid eating these type of fish caught from certain bodies of water.
The discovery of this evidence collected has created a long slow process in awareness to Americans that our food sources, Eco-and water-systems have been tainted by waste from corporate food companies. Such products as oil, toxic fumes and chemicals are responsible for these changes in our food and water. In a urgent response studies have been made on various alternatives such as Fish and Shellfish that contain high-quality protein and other vital nutrients, low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. Followed by a well balanced diet Women and children can being to feel safe again what they are eating and pave the way for our food sources, Eco-system to be restored. Therefore there is no denying that most fish in our Eco-system have small amounts of Mercury absorbed into their bodies. It is such a very small amount that it is not a concern. Staying clear from the fish that have high amounts are the fish you need to stay away from that can effect your babies nervous system. For these reasons the EPA and FDA have advised all women with babies or who are are want to be pregnant to not eat these types of fish as follows.
    


    

OK TO EAT 



  1. Shrimp
  2. Canned Light Tuna
  3. Salmon 
  4. Pollock
  5. Catfish


Choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish is easy, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of Albacore Light Tuna per week.





DO NOT EAT! HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY!!!
                                      




  1. Shark 
  2. Swordfish                                                                 
  3. King Mackerel                                              
  4. Tilefish






Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught  your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, be safe and eat only 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.
If you choose to follow these simple steps you can be assured your doing your part to create a strong healthy life for your children.










Diagnosis Mercury Part 2

This is the second of two blogs discussing the book “Diagnosis Mercury” by Jane Hightower.  I will discuss the rest of this book in this blog.  The author discusses mercury poisoning of the fish in Canada and Michigan.  She discusses a court case where the FDA is suing Anderson Foods because their swordfish were had tested above the FDA’s safe limit at that time of 0.5 mcg/g of mercury in commercial fish.  A large part of the case discussed the seed grain poisoning in Iraq and studies done on it.  First discussed are the witnesses on the side of the FDA.    She discusses the witnesses on the side of Anderson foods too.  This trial changed the FDA’s safe limit to 1 mcg/g of mercury in commercial fish.
            Next she discusses studies of mercury levels in fish that took place in Samoa and Peru.  She then discusses even bigger studies that were done in Seychelles and Faroes.  These studies focused on the effects of mercury toxicity on babies and young children.  The EPA uses the Faroes study to set its current standard for methyl mercury in the consuming of fish.  The fishing industry uses the Seychelles study as a counter to the Faroes study.  These two studies are discussed in detail. 

            The author then discusses some benefits that would happen if less people were poisoned from mercury in fish.  One was people would miss less work and medical practices would save money if mercury poisoning was found earlier.  She discusses some experiences she has had when working with people with mercury poisoning from fish.  This book really shows many of the studies done on mercury poisoning from fish.  It also shows some court cases on mercury poisoning.  It also shows an in depth look at mercury poisoning from a doctor and her many experiences with finding it and working with others about it.  It is worth reading if you are at all interested in mercury poisoning from fish and its effects on people, fishing companies, and the medical field.  

Seafood Calculator

Seafood Calculator

You may have read in a previous blog about a calculator that estimates the mercury exposure in your body called the Got Mercury? Calculator, but what about a calculator that helps you measure how much seafood to consume first?

Environmental Working Group created a Seafood Calculator that allows you to select from a customized list of seafood that are high in Omega-3’s and low in mercury. It even rates sustainability based on location and harvest methods, directly linked to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, which was also previously blogged about.

Photo Credit: Environmental Working Group
Based on a 4 oz. serving size, the chart will determine the consumption sizes of each type of seafood, adding its weekly mercury. If that does not help you determine the type of fish to eat and suggests the amount, I don’t know what will! Try it out and see the difference for yourself. Don't forget to tell your seafood-loving friends about it, too!

The best way to eat seafood is the safe way!

Previous Blogs:

Source:
Environmental Working Group
EWG’s Seafood Calculator

The Type of Fish You Eat Matters


Omega-3 is essential for healthy brain development and function. So it’s not only important for young children, but also adults. This is one of the main reasons that sea food is part of a balanced diet. However, mercury isn’t! So it’s essential to monitor not only the amount of fish you eat, but also the type.

The NRDC has a list of fish that should be completely avoided, as well as fish that should not be eaten more than 6 or 3 times a month. It’s easy to categorize all fish equally. However, it’s not that simple. It may be surprising to know that fish such as halibut, canned chunk light and skipjack tuna and Alaskan cod have moderate levels of mercury and shouldn’t be eaten more than 6 times a month. Even more shocking is that albacore and yellowfin tuna, along with some types of mackerel shouldn’t be eaten more than 3 times a month.

Each list contains several fish. However, the recommendation isn’t to eat each of those fish the recommended number of times each month. We shouldn’t eat any combination of those fish more than the recommended number of times, or in larger portions. So if you eat four (4) skipjack tuna sandwiches in one month, don't eat two (2) servings of any other fish on that list for the rest of the month.

Portion Sizes for Fish


The EPA recommends that adults eat only 6 ounces of fish per serving, and that children only eat 2 ounces. This serving size is the equivalent of about one palm full (not including the fingers), or about the size of a deck of cards. Notice that children’s portions are only 1/3 of adult portions. Because of the more serious effects on the brain and nervous system of small children when it comes to fish – less is more.

 However, the omega-3 and protein in fish is also very beneficial for developing brains. So it’s essential to either add supplements make sure they are getting the proper nutrition from other sources, or monitor fish consumption closely. Balance is key; it’s important to monitor what we are putting into our own bodies, and the bodies of our future leaders.

How Much Tuna is in Your Kids Lunch Every Week?


Do your kids like tuna sandwiches? If so, you may want to rethink how many times a week they have a tuna sandwich in their lunchbox. Consumer reports states that many children consume tuna sandwiches at lunch time because tuna is cheap, available at most grocery stores and liked by kids. Attention must also be payed to the school prepared lunches, as many school cafeteria's serve tuna as an option.




  • The recommendation for children 60 pounds and under is to only consume two ounces of canned albacore tuna per week. 
  • If you're wondering how much two ounces is, it is less than half of a five ounce can of tuna. 
  • The recommendation for canned light tuna for children 60 pounds or less is five ounces. 
  • So not that much more than the albacore tuna even though the albacore tuna has three times as much mercury in it then the light tuna.










Consumer Guide to Mercury in Fish

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends the various types of fish that can be safely consumed using body weight size as a way to provide a more specific and effective guide to safe fish consumption. Although this guide is targeted towards pregnant women or women who are planning to get pregnant, this can still serve as a resource for any person.

The Mercury Calculator is an effective tool that requires only a few things in order to find out your mercury consumption levels through one week. Here is a list of the things you need to know in order to complete the calculator with the most efficient results:

  • Weight (in lbs)
  • A list of the types of fish you ate for a week
  • Number of proportions you consumed for each fish type
  • Portion size (Small: 3 oz, Medium: 6 oz, Large: 8 oz)

After filling out the quick list of questions, you will then be provided with your results and an overview of what your level means and resources for more information and necessary steps in the regards to your mercury intake. Check out the Mercury Calculator here:

Global Recycling of Rare Earth Metals: Is this a good solution?

The global demand for electronic items like cell phones or computers outweighs the concern by manufacturers about remaining “green”. Rare earth elements/metals, or REEs, are necessary to build today’s technology. China is the main location for the mining and processing of REEs and the world depends on this outsourcing. This grants China the reign over REE trade. China regulates the manufacturing, inventory, and prices of REEs. This benefits China economically. They are taking advantage of the concept of “supply and demand”.
Decreased production/mining of REEs, while the demand for electronic creation remains high, creates a valuable imbalance causing prices to justifiably remain high. In 2010, China was responsible for 97 percent of the world’s supply of REEs; the same year China limited their exports, driving prices sky high. Mining facilities were built to try and recoup some of the major US companies in need of REEs. This decreased REE prices and – in part – their volatility.

One solution many from the United States (and other REE reliant countries) have thought of to decrease their dependency on China is by recycling the electronic products they already have. However, this might not be as easy as it sounds. Not only are people concerned about loss of personal information on electronics, but there are technical issues which create longer processes than we originally might have thought. “New phones contain around 65 elements, compared to the 85 used in all of industry.” says Alex King of the Ames Lab and director of the Critical Materials Institute. This alone makes the organization of elements in the recycling process much more difficult. Yale University industrial ecologist Thomas Graedel believes that the energy cost increase to recycle these electronics is arguably more harmful to the environment than simply continuing to mine the REEs. “We don’t know how to manufacture things for recyclability, in this country especially.” states Eric Peterson of Idaho National Laboratory, “We have to learn how to do that.”

Sources



Tessa Schwass

Thursday, March 12, 2015

So You Think You've Been Poisoned by Mercury...

Image result for mercury poisoning imagesPeople who have been exposed to high concentrations of mercury, especially pregnant women and young children, are at risk of mercury poisoning which can lead to serious health complications and even death. Symptoms may arise immediately or over a long period of time depending on the dose and the duration of exposure. In most cases, symptoms take weeks, months, or even a year to surface. Mercury takes on three different forms; inorganic or organic mercury, and elemental (vaporized) mercury. Each form's toxicity symptoms slightly vary. Inorganic mercury poisoning can lead to skin irritations and blood diarrhea if ingested in large amounts. Organic mercury toxicity can lead to symptoms including muscle weakness, loss of coordination, speech, vision, and hearing impairments. A person who has been poisoned by elemental mercury may experience mood swings, insomnia, tremors, and in very serious cases respiratory failure, kidney complications, and even death. 

Image result for health care images
If a person is symptomatic and suspects that they have been poisoned by mercury they should contact their physician or local poison control center immediately. Blood and urine tests can be done to help diagnose mercury poisoning. Any test resulting in concentration of mercury over 10µg/L (micrograms/liter) in blood or 20µg/L in urine can indicate toxic levels of exposure. For best results, the patient should not eat fish five days prior to being tested. Doctors may also order a Complete Blood Count (CBC), an MRI scans, or x-rays to better help diagnose mercury poisoning. The quicker a patient is diagnosed, the faster treatment can be started. Don't wait. The United States National Poison Control Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222 or visit their website at http://www.aapcc.org/. You can also find your local poison control center by visiting http://www.safekids.org/guide/find-your-local-poison-control-center.

Sources

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/

http://www.aapcc.org/

http://www.safekids.org/guide/find-your-local-poison-control-center

Photos courtesy of:

http://www.kindredmedia.org/2012/02/a-tale-of-autism-mercury-poisoning-and-recovery/

http://forcebydesign.com/our-work/healthcare/