by Morgan Knapp
Mercury poisoning, as I’m sure you can guess, comes from contact with mercury. Typical symptoms of mercury poisoning are: an itching or burning pain, swelling, skin shedding, high blood pressure, discoloration of the skin (see picture below), and an increase in saliva production. “But how do I get mercury poisoning”, you ask. Well, you can get mercury poisoning from too much direct contact with mercury. It is contained in some makeup, in some vaccines and medicines, amalgam teeth fillings, as well as broken fluorescent light bulbs, and of course fish.
Consumption of fish is the main source of mercury poisoning nowadays. It is hard for a fish to get rid of mercury in its system, so when it is eaten, the next fish up on the food chain collects the mercury from the fish being consumed. Therefore, the higher the fish on the food chain, the more mercury it is likely to contain. Tuna, whale and dolphin are fish that usually have high mercury levels. So it’s not good to eat large amounts of any of those fish. In fact the actor Jeremy Piven was diagnosed with a disease caused by mercury poisoning, from eating sushi twice a day for almost twenty years. The earliest account we know of mercury poisoning was Qin Shi Huang. Qing Shi Huang was an emperor of China who took mercury pills that he believed would give him eternal life. But of course it did the opposite and killed him. Large amounts of people have been subject to mercury poisoning from improper use of it at schools, including students and teachers holding mercury in their bare hands and playing with it…not such a good idea.
Detecting Mercury Poisoning: The common way to test for mercury poisoning is taking urine or blood samples and evaluating them.
Prevention: If you happen to come into close contact with mercury, it is recommended to immediately wash your skin with soap and water, then go to a doctor for evaluation. Chelation is a process used to get rid of mercury and other harmful metal poisonings. There are different chemicals that are used for different types of chelation, but chelation is done by taking pills orally. Over time it reduces the amount of mercury in your body. Some people believe that some forms of autism is caused by mercury poisoning, and chelation has been used to try and cure those with autism. The medical field is skeptical of chelation and say that it doesn’t have much affect on anything. It hasn’t been proven to help autism either. Chelation is also very dangerous; it can cause kidney failure, cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting, nausea, and even death. There have been more than thirty recorded deaths from chelation since the 1970’s.
The moral of the story is: be careful around mercury, because it is hard to cure mercury poisoning!