Mercury is a liquid silver colored metal. It is most commonly known as the liquid that makes the silver part of thermometers. It is available as inorganic (such as the metallic quick silver), or organic varieties. When heated it becomes an odorless, colorless gas.
We can be exposed to mercury from breathing air with the gas, eating food contaminated with and some medical and dental treatments that have mercury in them.
In addition to being used in thermometers, switches, batteries and it has industrial applications in producing chlorine gas and caustic soda. It is also used in fluorescent lighting.
Mercury salts can sometimes be used in skin creams that lighten the skin and in some antiseptic ointments.
Exposure can result in mercury poisoning or mercuralism.
The liquid toxic element mercury is only slightly toxic. The vapor, compounds and salts created from mercury are highly toxic. Contact, inhalation or ingestion can result in brain damage, liver damage, and death.
It originates in the ground and enters the environment from mining, burning coal, waste and manufacturing plants.
It can get into the water and soil from those natural deposits as well as improper waste disposal. Even volcanoes can introduce it into the atmosphere.
One type of the toxic element mercury is formed by microorganisms in the water and soil. From there it works its way up the food chain. The larger and older species of fish, the greater the potential concentration.
When exposed to high levels of the various types can result in permanent damage of the brain, kidneys, and even a developing fetus. The cognitive effects may include irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.
If exposed to high levels for a short time of metallic mercury vapors it may result in lung damage, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes, and eye irritation. Also increases in blood pressure, heart rate could result.
The toxic element mercury has been associated with mental retardation, inability to speak, dis-coordination, blindness, and seizures. Children poisoned by mercury may develop nervous system, digestive system, and kidney damage.
There is some controversy over whether it is a cause of autistic behaviors. The studies are considered flawed and mercury poisoning causing autism does not have the backing of the traditional medicine.
The autism community find this offensive because of the evidence suggesting autism being present from birth.
The Autism-mercury relationship was first theorized with the vaccines and the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal. Now it has been broadened to include dental fillings in the mothers of autistic babies.
1: Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2005 Oct;26(5):439-46. Mercury and Autism: Accelerating Evidence?
Institute for Environmental Medicine and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Freiburg, Germany.
The study reviewed several epidemiological studies and failed to find a correlation between mercury exposure and thimerosal and the risk of autism.
They discerned that..."...autistic children had a higher mercury exposure during pregnancy due to maternal dental amalgam and thimerosal-containing immunoglobulin shots."
It was hypothesized that the autistic children have decreased detoxification capacity related to the mercury and thimerosal levels several days post vaccination.
They also noted that the autistic children studied have a significantly decreased levels glutathione.
If you were to do a search of the studies you would find several that show that glutathione did not help to reduce the effects of heavy metal poisoning or even as a chelating factor.
Remember, glutathione is poorly absorbed by the body. It seems the beneficial effect of glutathione can only be realized when the precursors are absorbed and the glutathione is manufactured in each and every cell.
Note what the following study has to say on this… Neurotoxicology. 2005 Jan;26(1):1-8
Thimerosal neurotoxicity is associated with glutathione depletion: protection with glutathione precursors.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA.
"Thimerosol is an antiseptic containing 49.5% ethyl mercury that has been used for years as a preservative in many infant vaccines and in flu vaccines."
Note...the flu vaccines potentially could be given to pregnant women.
The study commented on the neurotoxin effects and how mercury has a high affinity for thiol (sulfhydryl (-SH)) groups. It noted that glutathione (GSH) provides the major intracellular defense against mercury-induced neurotoxicity. The study concluded that the potential protective effect of GSH against mercury toxicity warranted further research as possible adjunct therapy.
Neurotoxicology. 2006 Jul;27(4):492-500. Epub 2006 Mar 2. Glutathione modulation influences methyl mercury induced neurotoxicity in primary cell cultures of neurons and astrocytes.
Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7489 Trondheim, Norway.
In this study, they investigated the role of glutathione (GSH) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) (also known as free radicals) in Methyl mercury (MeHg) induced neurotoxicity. They found that the depletion of GSH increases MeHg accumulation and enhances MeHg-induced oxidative stress, and conversely, supplementation with GSH precursor protects against MeHg exposure in vitro.
The EPA considers some types of mercury as possible human carcinogens.
Careful handling and disposal of thermometers including the ones used as thermostats and fluorescent light bulbs. Children should be taught not to play with shiny silver liquid.
Pregnant women and children should avoid areas that use or store liquid mercury.
You can also contact your community or state health or environmental quality department if you have any more questions or concerns regarding toxic element mercury.
There are a few medical ways to treat mercury poisoning. All require being seen by a doctor. There are emerging holistic treatments but many lack the scientific study to prove their effectiveness.
One thing we could do to enhance our ability to defend our body from exposure and even enhance the medical care given from the health care team would be to make sure our dietary intake of the precursors of glutathione were adequate.
It should be noted that even his warrants caution. Many vegetables from countries where the pesticides are not regulated. This could introduce into your diet other carcinogens or even toxic metals which may have been used as pesticides. It would be important to know the sources of the foods and or supplements we take.
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