Recognizing mercury’s toxicity

Mercury is a heavy metal, known to damage the human nervous system and cause liver toxicity and memory loss.

The United States agreed to join an international treaty to reduce mercury emissions. At the international forum in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2009, the current Obama administration described mercury pollution as the world’s gravest chemical problem. This represents a 180-degree change in existing government policy.

Mercury is a heavy metal, known to damage the human nervous system and cause liver toxicity and memory loss. Children and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to mercury poisoning; it can cause birth defects, brain damage and peeling skin.

Mercury toxicity gave rise to the phrase, “Mad as a hatter,” because a century ago, mercury was used in making felt hats. Hatters and mill workers often suffered neurological damage — confused speech and distorted vision — from breathing mercury fumes. Many died early as a result of mercury poisoning.

“The Obama administration’s lack of complacency is a bright light on the horizon,” said Dr. Martha Grout, a homeopathic medical doctor who practices in Scottsdale, Ariz. “When traces of mercury were found at Agua Fria High School, officials immediately closed the school. Contrast that response with the recent ruling of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (Vaccine Court) that the combination of the MMR vaccine and thimerosal (mercury preservative) in other vaccines did not cause or contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. There is a disconnect here. Perhaps the Vaccine Court has yet to understand that the winds of change are upon us, that the health care crisis demands a more honest appraisal of the importance of a clean environment for the health of its citizens, and that looking the other way is no longer sufficient reason for not seeing the evidence.”

There has been much talk of needing to lower health care costs, and any attempts to reduce human exposure to mercury’s dangers can lessen the incidents of illness. Doctors find elevated levels of mercury in almost everyone tested.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 2, Apr/May 2009.

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