Mercury’s alias is Quicksilver. It is an element chemically form with the atomic number of 80 and a chemical symbol of Hg. Mercury is regarded as the only metallic element having a liquid form at a standard temperature of 273K and a standard pressure of 1atm.
It is a silver-like substance, and it is known to have a very high surface tension which is why it’s commonly used in equipment like thermometers, barometers, fluorescent lamps, etc. It is also used for dental purposes such as the production of dental fillings.
WHY IS MERCURY TOXIC?
Exposure to excess mercurial content, especially a type of mercury known as methyl-mercury even in small amounts can have negative health consequences. When fetuses, infants and children are exposed it can lead to growth and developmental problems. The effects of mercury on an individual can be very toxic and can lead to nervous system breakdown and cancer.
Most seafood contains small traces of methylmercury. Fish and shellfish can also be contaminated with mercury vapors exposed during the industrial process.
HOW DOES MERCURY END UP IN FOOD AND PRODUCTS?
Man-made activities such as burning coal release mercury into the atmosphere. Whenever it rains, the rain washes mercury residue into the water which endangers the lives of aquatic creatures. This enters the food chain and the larger animals accumulate the most mercury because they have eaten smaller contaminated fish and have a longer life expectancy. This longer life expectancy causes the fish to accumulate more mercury in its body over its life.
Some common household products can expose individuals to mercury. Electric bulbs or some older electronic appliances can contain mercury which will be released into the atmosphere when damaged. When disposing of these appliances, contact a professional recycler.
WHAT PRODUCTS IS MERCURY FOUND IN?
Fish and seafood are said to be the highest carriers of mercurial content due to the exposure of mercurial wastes from industries. Some seafood has a higher content of mercury than others. Larger seafood such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna, and American Lobster has a high content of mercury. Fish with lower concentrations of mercury include anchovies, catfish, salmon, trout and sardines.
Also, domestic and industrial equipment such as electric bulbs, thermometers, manometers, barometers, electronic appliances, relays usually contain mercury.
Skin products such as those dubbed as skin lightening or anti-aging creams can be made with mercurial content.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE MERCURY ON A LABEL
Most products containing the element Mercury always inscribe “Contains Mercury” on the label of their products. Due to the associated risks with contacting mercury just stay clear from products that are suspected to be made with mercury.
Skin products that contain mercury may have the following as a part of the ingredient list “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “
Mercury contamination is a product of industrialization. Most humans that ingest very small amounts of mercury will not be harmed. The risk increases the more mercury you eat and the age of the person. Fetuses will have the highest risk, followed by infants, toddlers, and children.
Manufacturers need to indicate that their product contains mercury either by a warning or an ingredient list. However, since it is not deliberately added to seafood, you will have to depend on your knowledge to know which foods have the lowest amounts of mercury.