Mercury is essentially a metal that’s liquid in room temperature. Unfortunately, it is highly toxic and there are cases of mercury poisoning that we should know. A chemistry professor from Dartmouth College, Karen Wetterhahn accidentally spilled a very toxic form of mercury, dimethyl mercury in 1996. The substance could actually penetrate latex gloves and this could cause severe poisoning when our skin is exposed. She went into coma six months later after became very ill. Despite intensive treatments, she eventually died. Cases of mercury poisoning happens since many centuries ago.
In 3rd century BC, Uin Shi Huang, a Chinese emperor was searching the secret for eternal life and it is believed that the answer can be found somewhere on Penglai mountain. Eventually the emperor acquired an elixir of life, which caused his quick death. These pills actually contain mercury and Uin Shi Huang became the first famous individual who died from mercury poisoning. It is clear that mercury is very dangerous and has damaging effects on lungs, kidneys, nervous system and brain. Common symptoms of mercury poisoning are insomnia, pain, fatigue, swelling, itching, hair loss, teeth loss, irritability, memory problems, muscle weakness and personality changes.
Jeremy Piven was a popular Broadway actor and in 2008, he started to miss some performance due to an unknown illness. It is found that Piven has a severe case of mercury poisoning, because he eats sushi twice a day for about 20 years. While eating fish is healthy, it appears that Piven gets his food from questionable sources.
In reality, sushi isn’t the only source of mercury and we could also get it from waste disposal, cosmetics, fluorescent lights, vaccines and dental amalgams. Dental amalgam could stay inside our mouth for decades, which is quite ironic because dentists are not allowed to throw it to the trash can.
It is a worrying fact that fisheries industries have been affected by mercury and heavy metal contamination. As an example, declining salmon population was apparently caused by too few males and too many females. This isn’t a major natural glitch. Although the ratio of male and female hatchlings is approximately equal; the ratio changed significantly downriver, without females far outnumbering the males. The phenomenon was actually caused by gender reversal and it is found that male could turn into female during early female if exposed to estrogen. However, there’s no natural estrogen in the river, but it appears that heavy metals, detergents and pesticides could actually work as natural hormones.
It is clear that mercury contamination doesn’t only affect people, but also wildlife. It would become quite questionable whether these fishes are safe to eat due to the fact that they were exposed to chemicals. We won’t know whether we could sustain healthy lifestyle among the population if mercury is freely dumped into the environment as mining and industrial wastes. To avoid mercury contamination, it is essential to choose non-coastal fishes, because fishes caught near the shore could already be badly contaminated.