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Mercury poisoning

Category: Illness or disabilities

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

Mercury poisoning (also known as hydrargyria or mercurialism) is a disease caused by exposure to mercury or its compounds. Mercury (chemical symbol Hg) is a heavy metal occurring in several forms, all of which can produce toxic effects in high enough doses.

Mercury toxicity is considered the second-most common cause of acute heavy metal poisoning, with 3,596 known cases reported in 1997 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.   There is a suspicion that far more undiagnosed cases exist.

A person suffering from mercury poisoning may experience profuse sweating, tachycardia (persistently faster-than-normal heart beat), increased salivation, and hypertension (high blood pressure) all symptoms of poisoning [or more corecly toxicity] and the fight or flight response.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, mercury is listed as the third-most frequently found (lead and arsenic are first and second), and the most toxic substance in the United States. This figure originates from the U.S. Government’s Priority List of Hazardous Substances.

One of the main ways in which you can find out how much mercury has been absorbed by a person and whether it is a problem is by analysis of their blood , urine and their hair………

Mercury content of hair in different populations relative to fish consumption - Srogi K;  Silesian University of Technology, Department of Inorganic Chemistry, Krzywoustego 6, 44-100 Gliwice, Poland.
Hair has been used in many studies as a bioindicator of mercury exposure for human populations.
At the time of hair formation, mercury from the blood capillaries penetrates into the hair follicles. As hair grows approximately 1 cm each month, mercury exposure over time is recapitulated in hair strands. Mercury levels in hair closest to the scalp reflect the most recent exposure, while those farthest from the scalp are representative of previous blood concentrations.
Sequential analyses of hair mercury have been useful for identifying seasonal variations over time in hair mercury content, which may be the result of seasonal differences in bioavailability of fish and differential consumption of piscivorous and herbivorous fish species. Knowledge of the relation between fish-eating practices and hair mercury levels is particularly important for adequate mitigation strategies.
Methyl mercury is well absorbed, and because the biological half-life is long, the body burden in humans may reach high levels. People who frequently eat contaminated seafood can acquire mercury concentrations that are potentially dangerous to the fetus in pregnant women.
The dose-response relationships have been extensively studied, and the safe levels of exposure have tended to decline. Individual methyl mercury exposure is usually determined by analysis of mercury in blood and hair.
The objective of the present review was to examine variations in hair mercury levels from different populations with respect to fish-eating practices.
PMID: 17193738

It is not that useful to measure blood levels for suspected cases of elemental or inorganic poisoning because of mercury's short half-life in the blood. If the exposure is chronic, urine levels can be obtained; 24-hour collections are more reliable than spot collections. Diagnosis of organic mercury poisoning differs in that whole-blood or hair analysis is more reliable than urinary mercury levels.

Please note that I have added some extra information which provides far more detail in the following sections

Mercury poisoning  - Sources

More details about all the sources of mercury poisoning can be found in the detailed section Mercury poisoning – sources.  Briefly however, the sources are as follows

  • Food contamination  - including fish contamination, whale and dolphin meat,  plant and livestock
  • Agriculture and gardening - Fungicide contamination, Gardening e.g. calomel.  
  • Medical procedures – dental treatment , vaccination [Hepatititus, flu, HIB, DtaB, tetanus, diptheria, etc], snake or spider bite treatments, skin testing for antigens, clearing of intestinal obstruction.
  • Over the counter medicines – herbal medicines,  calomel, teething powders, syphilis treatments, disinfectants , ophthalmic and nasal products, ayuverdic medicine, antiseptics such as Merbromin, diuretics, laxatives, nappy rash treatments, vaginal contraceptives, ointments
  • Waste disposal – hazardous waste sites, incineration of waste [particularly medical waste], recycling facilities and municipal incinerators, computer part recycling facilities
  • Manufacturing – mirror making, thermometer, barometer and mercury arc equipment manufacture; as well as pigment, fungicide, insecticide and dry cell battery manufacture, paper manufacturing, hat making .  Tanning
  • Laboratory exposure – Anyone working in a laboratory that uses mercury based products is at risk. 
  • Mining – mercury mining; gold mining and extraction
  • Domestic consumables – cosmetics, fluorescent lamps, paint
  • Cremation
  • Tattooing
  • Natural sources - Annual worldwide emissions of mercury into the atmosphere have been estimated at 2,200 metric tons.  One-third of these emissions are estimated to originate from natural sources, for example, volcanic eruptions and decay of mercury-containing sediment.
  • Fossil fuels - Twenty-five percent of total worldwide emissions of mercury come from fossil fuel combustion.

How it works

Heavy metal Poisoning and brain damage.

The brain damage is principally caused by mercury’s effects on selenium.  Mercury is highly reactive with selenium.

Among their numerous functions, selenoenzymes prevent and reverse oxidative damage in the brain and endocrine organs. Mercury irreversibly inhibits the activities of selenoenzymes.   Since the rate of oxygen consumption is particularly high in brain tissues, they are particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage and especially dependent upon the antioxidant protection provided by selenoenzymes.

High mercury exposure thus depletes the amount of cellular selenium and if the depletion is severe and long lasting, results in brain cell dysfunctions that cause visions, hallucinations but can ultimately cause death.

Observations

I have only provided a relatively small number of observations, many more can be found on PubMed.

I actually believe that this and lead poisoning, along with other heavy metal poisoning, is the cause of an inordinate number of illnesses and disabilities given fancy names which only serve to hide the ultimate cause and confuse the issue.

Related observations