Heavy metals

Mercury- a toxic heavy metal

Mercury is toxic for our body

Mercury can severely diminish health. It is something that the body has no use for, at all. Most of the mercury that enters the body is stored in the kidneys. The rest is dispersed throughout the body, blood, spleen, brain, liver, bones and fatty tissues also hold mercury. It poses a threat to growing foetuses and it can get into breast milk.
Some of the responses to mercury are varying in intensity depending on the form and level of exposure. Functional changes from occupational exposure include irritability, excitability, shyness and insomnia. Continued exposure can develop into violent muscular spasms. Acute exposure to mercury vapour has been recorded as the cause of profound effects on the nervous system including psychotic reactions like hallucinations, suicidal tendencies and delirium. Mercury in vaccines and medicine has been connected to the occurrence of autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources of mercury

Mercury is often a danger in industrial settings. Most commonly the threat is present in power plants that use coal, medical applications (including vaccinations). It gets into the water supply and into seafood. It’s still used in the cinnabar form as components of Tibetan, Chinese and Auyrvedic medicines. Mercury (I) chloride is used in medicine sometimes. Mercury (II) sulphide is used in the paint pigment, vermillion. It’s still used in fluorescent light bulbs because of its efficiency. Organic compounds of mercury are the most toxic forms. Examples are methyl mercury and dimethyl mercury.
Methyl mercury affects the immune system, alters genetic and enzyme systems, and damages the nervous system, including coordination and the senses of touch, taste, and sight. Methylmercury is particularly damaging to developing embryos, which are five to ten times more sensitive than adults.
Dimethyl mercury is usually used in chemistry labs and is known to be extremely toxic. The case of the professor who died 5 months after exposure to few drops of dimethyl mercury clearly shows the high toxicity of dimethyl mercury.
Mercury can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption. It is often used in meters, like thermometers, barometers, and other scientific equipment.
Elemental mercury, Hg(0), the form released from broken thermometers, causes tremors, gingivitis, and excitability when vapors are inhaled over a long period of time.
Due to the toxicity of mercury, many people are phasing out these mercury items in favour of alcohol-filled, digital and other alternative instruments.
Mercury is contained in most dental filling material and all silver amalgam material. Surface particles of the amalgam filling material are being chemically broken down and released into the oral cavity. These minute particles of mercury filling are acted upon by oral and intestinal bacteria to produce methyl mercury, with target areas being primarily the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, and the brain. The effects of dental amalgam fillings can be illustrated in the following way: Eight amalgams in a single mouth can release 3–17 mcg of mercury per day. 1 mcg of mercury contains 120,827,403,000,000,000,000 atoms. Each mercury atom can potentially destroy a nerve cell or lymphocyte blood cell. As the lymphocytes are the "back-bone" of our body's immune system it is considered that this is the way how mercury compromises our immune system and damages the health.