How Mercury Gets Into My Body

ConsultationMercury is shiny, beautiful and appears harmless, but in fact it’s poisonous to every living thing on the planet.  A few beads of one form of mercury dropped onto the gloved hand of a research scientist caused her death.  The amount of mercury in a fever thermometer carried through the air and into a small lake can over time make the fish in it unsafe to eat. Hundreds of tons of mercury are pumped into the world’s skies by industry, predominately through burning coal in energy plants. You may be aware that certain fish contain high amounts of mercury, prompting the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to issue fish consumption warnings to pregnant women as it harms the developing fetus. But mercury poisoning is not just OUT THERE….

You may be shocked to learn that you and millions of others may have mercury in your mouths right now.  And there is a strong possibility it is affecting your health negatively.

Those Dental Fillings Are Not Just Silver
That’s right.  If you have  (or have had) “silver” dental fillings, you’re being exposed to toxic mercury vapor. You should know that the material dentists use to fill dental cavities is actually a mixture—or amalgam—of metals that is composed of at least 50% mercury.  Amalgams are well documented to continuously release harmful mercury vapors into the brain, bloodstream and other tissues. This is accelerated by the presence of other metals in the mouth (such as gold or bridgework) in a process called galvanism.  In this process, a “battery” effect is created in the mouth when different kinds of metals come in contact with each other and saline saliva.  This produces an electrical current that flows though the body and breaks down the amalgam, releasing higher levels of mercury vapor, and in some cases even causing headaches, pain and tremors. 

The amalgam problem is made worse by one of today’s most popular cosmetic treatments—tooth bleaching.  Results from a study published in General Dentistry showed that amalgams exposed to bleaching agents from different manufacturers all had increased mercury release over time.

Other Sources of Toxic Mercury
While the World Health Organization ranks dental amalgams as the #1 source of mercury in your body, they aren’t the only source.  Certain types and brands of the following common products also may contain mercury:

Fish Vaccines Thermometers
Fluorescent light bulbs Thermostats Barometers
Light-up Sports Shoes Button Cell Batteries Cosmetics
Disinfectants Skin Creams Tattoos
Latex Paint (pre-1991)   Old chemistry sets Blood pressure gauges

You can be exposed to mercury in a number of ways. You may come in contact with mercury and its fumes from broken thermometers or other spills in the home, school or workplace. You may breathe in airborne mercury produced by coal-fired power plants, mining operations or other industrial sources. Perhaps you work in an occupation that uses mercury, such as a dental office or manufacturing plant.  Or, you may regularly eat fish that may otherwise have many health benefits, but also a high probability of being contaminated by methylmercury. 

If You Eat Fish, Be Aware.
The non-profit Environmental Defense organization has listed among their “EcoWorst” fish to eat blue and striped marlin, swordfish, shark, Atlantic salmon, orange roughy, grouper, Chilean sea bass, and blue fin tuna.  According to consumer and public health groups virtually every can of tuna is contaminated to some degree, resulting in warnings for children and pregnant women to limit their intake of this popular fish.  But in June 2006 Consumer Reports magazine upped the ante when their fish-safety experts found that some cans of tuna are are much higher in mercury than average, causing them to write that "there's enough uncertainty about the safety of even brief exposure of the fetus to such higher mercury levels that a more cautious approach is warranted.  Based on the FDA data and the mercury-exposure levels that the Environmental Protection Agency deems acceptable, here's what our experts recommend [to] pregnant women.  Given the uncertainties about the safety of even chunk-light tuna, we think it's prudent for pregnant women to avoid canned tuna entirely."

For more information on fish-eating safety, you may want to browse Environmental Defense’s web site and their “Eco-Best” and “Eco-Worst” fish at www.oceansalive.org.

Who’s at Risk for Mercury Exposure?
Everyone, because mercury is in "silver" dental fillings, the air, the water and the soil, and so every day we breathe it, swallow it, or eat it in our food crops.  But there are certain age groups and occupations at greater risk for mercury’s toxic effects on health.  Among those are pregnant and lactating women, children, the elderly, the chronically ill, people who work in manufacturing plants that produce barometers, thermometers, paper, ink, neon lights, mirrors, insecticides, dyes, explosives and fireworks, as well as film developers, dentists and dental workers, embalmers, and paint makers.  Given mercury's risks, it would be wise to safeguard yourself and your family by reducing mercury exposure in the future.

What’s YOUR Mercury Level?
Here are 3 easy steps you can take to discover and reduce your mercury levels: 

  1. If you haven’t already, Check YOUR Mercury Risk free to quickly determine if you have the signs and symptoms of mercury toxicity.
  2. If the Mercury Risk Test indicates your risk is high, we’ll recommend that you find out the actual mercury level in your body through the most-definitive test available, the Provoked Mercury Urine Challenge. 
  3. If the Urine Challenge indicates that you have elevated mercury levels, our doctors will most likely recommend that you detoxify with a safe and clinically proven detoxification program.