The First Step in Dealing with Mercury Poisoning

Feb 23


Blanca  Somers

Blanca Somers

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Mercury is uniquely both a heavy metal and a liquid at room temperature. Only three other elements are liquids at room temperature. Its atomic number is 80. Other metals near it on the Periodic Chart include silver, gold, cadmium, and lead. Gold is the only one of these that is more dense. Being both a metal and liquid had made it both useful and harmful. The usefulness has been known for centuries. The harm we are only beginning to learn.


Mercury metal is a highly useful element,The First Step in Dealing with Mercury Poisoning Articles number 80 on the Periodic Chart of the elements. It is the only heavy metal that is a liquid at room temperature, one of only four elements that is so. Its qualities as a liquid and a heavy metal have made it both useful and deadly in history. Other metals on the Periodic Chart with similar characteristics are gold, silver, cadmium, and lead. Of these, only gold is denser.

Mercury has been around for a long time. It was known in ancient China and India and was found in Egyptian tombs built 3500 years ago. Mercury metal is extracted from cinnabar, or mercury sulfide. Cinnabar is mined mostly in Texas, California, Spain and Italy. The metal has been used for years in thermometers, sphygmomanometers, and barometers because it responds to temperature and pressure changes uniformly and because 13 times less mercury is needed in the measuring column than if it contained water. The down side of this is that mercury, mercury vapor, and all soluble salts of mercury are extreme poisons.

The poisonous nature of mercury has not kept it from being used in a wide variety of products. Blue light street lights are generally mercury vapor lights. Mercury sulfide, in the form of vermillion, is used as a paint to slow the growth of barnacles on ships. Mercury is also used in fluorescent lights. When they are broken indoors, enough poisonous mercury vapor is given off to be a health risk. Mercury is still used in some cosmetics and dental amalgams. Not so many years ago, it was common to paint mercurochrome on a wound to prevent infection. Greater awareness of the effects of mercury poisoning has outlawed such tinctures.

Researched has heightened awareness of the far reaching negative effects of heavy metals on health. The fact is, mercury, lead, cadmium and other heavy metals are not needed by the body. Indeed, their presence is nearly always negative. We ingest them in a variety of ways. The abundant use of mercury in the past has now poisoned water, land, and seas. Today mercury poisoning in tuna and swordfish is a serious health risk and must be monitored continually.

These are a few common products containing mercury in some form. Each poses a threat to cause mercury poisoning: algaecides, body powders, calomel lotions, dental amalgams, felt, germicides, insecticides, manufacture of paper and chlorine, paper products, polluted water, skin lightening creams, and tanning leather.

These are a few of the effects of mercury poisoning on the body: allergy, anxiety, cataracts, depression, dizziness, emotional disturbances, fatigue, kidney damage, pain in limbs, suicidal tendencies, and others. These heavy metals can actually damage DNA increasing the risk of cancer.

Symptoms like those above often include sensory impairment such as vision, hearing, or speech problems, lack of coordination, and disturbed sensation. The type of symptom and the degree of the problem will depend on the individual, the metal causing the poisoning, and the duration of the exposure.

The multitude of products that once used or presently use a form of mercury is staggering. How many of these are in landfills today leaching their poisons into the ground water? Yes, city water systems are monitored for mercury poisoning. But what are wells and springs?

In light of these facts, we can be glad that great efforts have been undertaken to rid us of the danger of mercury poisoning. Our immediate responsibility is to be sure that we do what we can to protect ourselves and our family from mercury poisoning, especially in our water systems. Most city water systems monitor and filter out any mercury found in the water. However, if you are on a well, or if you simply want to protect yourselves just in case, then a water filter is highly recommended. A good activated charcoal filter promises to remove 95% of any mercury or other heavy metals in the water through adsorption. The investment in such a filter may be well worth the money, just for the peace of mind it brings.