Mercury is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the six most toxic substances on the planet.
One of the reasons for this is that it doesn’t take much for it to turn into vapor when some heat is introduced to the equation.
The number one source of mercury toxicity is “artisanal gold mining,” which accounts for 30% of the world’s total Mercury pollution and puts a little more than 10 million people at risk who live near these sites.
Beyond that, Mercury becomes at-risk of endangering people from:
- measuring devices, such as thermometers and barometers
- electric switches and relays in equipment
- lamps (including some types of light bulbs)
- dental amalgam (for dental fillings)
- skin-lightening products and other cosmetics
- pharmaceuticals (most notably, vaccines)
For the average person who is not an artisanal gold miner or lives near gold mining sites, the most present danger of mercury toxicity would be from dental fillings and fish consumption.
Amalgam fillings that sit in the mouth for years, even decades, slowly release mercury into the bloodstream throughout the lifetime of the filling. And brushing an amalgam filling releases a measurable amount of mercury vapor every time.
Another reason mercury is so dangerous is that it is easily transferable. Mining operations, batteries stored in dumping sites, industrial processes, etc. often create runoff that contains mercury, makes its way into waterways and adds toxicity to the ocean.
Small fish and bottom-dwellers pick it up, which are in turn eaten by larger fish, which are in turn eaten by even larger fish until the food chain reaches an apex predator (like a shark or orca for example). This process is known as biomagnification and it doesn’t just happen in fish.
This results in the upward movement of mercury where the largest predatory sea creatures can become highly toxic. Shark, swordfish and yellowfin tuna are a major source of the transference of heavy metal toxicity to humans.
Mercury Toxicity Symptoms
Mercury poisoning can be acute or chronic. If one is suddenly exposed to a toxic level of mercury, acute symptoms include:
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Numbness, particularly in the hands or face
- Physical tremors
- Mood changes
- Loss of memory
- Sudden muscle weakness
- Loss of motor skills and/or balance
- Difficulty breathing
- Metallic taste in the mouth
In the case of long-term chronic exposure or toxic buildup, things just slowly and progressively get worse, sometimes not presenting in full-effect until a person’s 60s or 70s. Potential dangers include:
- Low intelligence/IQ
- Poor reflexes
- Motor skill degeneration
- Numbness, particularly in the extremities and face
- Memory and concentration issues/dementia
- Heart attack
- Coronary disease
Acute mercury poisoning is much easier to treat. An IV chelation is generally all that is required and the dangers will quickly abate if the patient is taken to a hospital within 24 hours of exposure.
For people with chronic mercury poisoning, detoxification is much more of a challenge. Again, as symptoms do not often present at a noticeable level until later in life, it’s good to–at least every few years–take a heavy metals toxicity test.
Notice the included image, where mercury levels are quite high. This patient was not outwardly expressing any extreme versions of the symptoms of mercury toxicity–yet.
When mercury is present for years or decades, it settles in the bones and deep in various organ tissue, as well as in fat tissue. Weight loss is a great way to rid oneself of some heavy metal toxicity.
Consistent oral chelation is required. It’s best if this is an activated charcoal supplement, which binds with heavy metals and is able to pull them from the tissue, or a more powerful product.
It is crucial that a heavy metal detox by undertaken under the supervision of a professional. Not only will the results be ultimately better, simply taking a chelator puts one at risk of retoxification.
Activated charcoal, for example, may pull toxins from one tissue, circulate throughout the body for a while, then re-deposit the toxins somewhere else. There needs to be a mechanism by which it is ensured toxins will be flushed from the system. A professional should be able, either through various detoxifications practices or products, to make sure any toxins are flushed.