Monday, December 14, 2015

Health Impacts of Mercury

Although mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in many forms in nature, it proves to be immensely detrimental to human health, even in small amounts.  According to the World Health Organization, mercury is one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern due to its toxic effects on numerous body systems. Since mercury comes in many forms, there are multiple ways that we can be exposed. We are most commonly exposed to the compound methylmercury- what we ingest when eating seafood.

As a result of mercury exposure, fetuses are susceptible to developmental issues, which is why pregnant women are advised against eating fish and other forms of seafood.  If a pregnant woman were to ingest mercury, it could cause negative effects on their child’s neurological development. In addition, people who are regularly exposed to mercury (those who rely on fishing or people who are exposed for work reasons) are very likely to develop health problems as a result.

Mercury exposure can cause detriment to the nervous, immune, and digestive system, as well as kidneys and lungs. All of these health complications can prove to be fatal in the long term. Since mercury bioaccumulates like all other elements and compounds, it stays in our bodies and builds up the more we ingest or are exposed to mercury.  Some symptoms of mercury exposure include, but are not limited to: insomnia, loss of memory, headaches, and cognitive and motor dysfunction. 

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