Once in your body, metallic mercury can stay for weeks or months. When metallic mercury enters the brain, it is readily converted to an inorganic form and is “trapped” in the brain for a long time. Metallic mercury in the blood of a pregnant woman can enter her developing child.
The biological half-life of mercury is estimated to be approximately 30 to 60 days in the body . The half-life of mercury in the brain is not entirely clear, but is estimated to be as long as approximately 20 years.
The traditional treatment for mercury poisoning is to stop all exposures. In many cases, chelation therapy is also used. This involves giving a medication (the chelator) which goes into the body and grabs the metal (chelos is the Greek word for claw) then carries the metal out of the body, usually into the urine.
A large overdose of inorganic mercury may cause massive blood and fluid loss, kidney failure, and likely death. Chronic brain damage from organic mercury poisoning is difficult to treat. Some people never recover, but there has been some success in people who receive chelation treatment.
The half-life period of methylmercury, that is, the time in which the content of methylmercury in the body is reduced to half through excretion, is 70 days on average.
High exposure to inorganic mercury may result in damage to the gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system, and the kidneys.
Many studies show that high exposure to mercury induces changes in the central nervous system, potentially resulting in irritability, fatigue, behavioral changes, tremors, headaches, hearing and cognitive loss, dysarthria, incoordination, hallucinations, and death.
Elemental mercury, if inhaled, can cause permanent lung damage and potential brain damage. Inorganic mercury can damage kidneys and cause blood loss. Organic mercury can damage your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Large amounts of mercury or long-term exposure can lead to death if not treated.
Some of the health effects exposure to mercury may cause include: irritation to the eyes, skin, and stomach; cough, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, insomnia, irritability, indecision, headache, weakness or exhaustion, and weight loss.
Salmon is low in mercury.
Farmed salmon has on average, 0.05 micrograms of mercury per gram. This is well below the levels deemed safe for women and children by the FDA and EPA, which inform the United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).
The most commonly accepted methods of assessing mercury exposure are to test urine or blood. Both tests usually measure levels of total mercury (elemental, inorganic and organic). Elevated mercury in urine usually indicates exposure to an elemental or inorganic source of mercury, such as from a job that uses mercury.
Removing mercury from drinking water
Mercury can be reduced below 2 ppb in drinking water using granular activated carbon filtration, coagulation/filtration, lime softening or reverse osmosis.
Mercury is a metal that can turn to vapor at room temperatures. The lungs can easily absorb this vapor, and once mercury is in the body, it can pass through cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier. Mercury is also a neurotoxin, and it can cause neurological damage that leads to hallucinations and psychosis.
Additionally, mercury impairs mitochondrial function, resulting in lower energy and lethargy, compounding mental health disorders. Mercury also promotes inflammation, which inhibits the central nervous system and further perpetuates depression and anxiety.
Mercury exposure can cause mood swings, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, confusion, aggressiveness, and a number of other issues. If you suddenly feel confused or that your emotions or mind is out of control, it may be symptomatic of continued exposure to mercury.
Health effects of mercury exposure
The inhalation of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal. The inorganic salts of mercury are corrosive to the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract, and may induce kidney toxicity if ingested.
Diagnosis usually involves a physical examination, blood tests, and urine tests. A healthcare provider might also ask about diet and lifestyle. Treating mercury toxicity usually revolves around ceasing any exposure to mercury.
The mercury in these types of products can be absorbed through your skin. Mercury can damage the brain, nervous system and kidneys. It may also damage the skin, cause rashes and blotchy spots, and give skin a grayish color. The longer and more often products containing mercury are used, the greater the health risk.
Boiling your water will not remove mercury from it. Most systems with thin film composite membranes or filters containing KDF media will reduce mercury levels in drinking water, like reverse osmosis, under sink, and most Everpure systems.
Mercury can be measured in blood, urine or hair to determine the level in a person's body. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that methylmercury levels up to 5.8 micrograms (mcg) per liter (L) of blood are "safe".
If inorganic mercury enters your bloodstream, it can attack the kidneys and brain. Permanent kidney damage and kidney failure may occur. A large amount in the bloodstream may cause massive blood and fluid loss from diarrhea and kidney failure, leading to death.
The most common way people in the U.S. are exposed to mercury is by eating seafood contaminated with methylmercury. Nearly all fish and shellfish contain trace amounts of methylmercury.
Dietary fiber: Various foods rich in fiber, such as fruit and grains with bran, may help remove heavy metals. Researchers have found fiber to reduce mercury levels in the brain and blood.