Mercury Poisoning (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Mercury Poisoning Prevention
Prevention of mercury poisoning is difficult if the source of the mercury is unknown. Consequently, prevention of mercury poisoning begins with identifying the potential or known sources and stopping production or isolating the toxin so none will come in contact with people. These situations are usually found in industrial or environmental sources of mercury and may require both industrial and governmental assistance to design ways to prevent exposure to forms of mercury.
Mercury Poisoning Prevention at Home
At home, there are a few mercury- containing items (for example, thermometers, medical devices, some disinfectants, fluorescent light bulbs) that potentially can be the source of mercury poisoning. People are advised to read the labels on products to see if they contain mercury, have warning labels about potential toxicity, or have directions about how to dispose of a broken or non-useable product. The EPA has a detailed set of instructions about what to do and what not to do if mercury is spilled or a fluorescent bulb breaks in the home. The instructions also tell how to dispose of mercury containing products.
Mercury Poisoning Prevention - Amalgam Fillings
People are also concerned about mercury found in dental amalgam fillings. However, the CDC has stated there is no good evidence that the small amount of mercury in amalgam fillings causes harm and that removing amalgam fillings does not benefit people. However, there are several other types of dental filling material that can be used so individuals are urged to discuss choices for dental fillings with their dentist.
Mercury Poisoning Prevention - Fish and Shellfish
Fish and shellfish are usually considered to be part of a healthy diet, but almost all contain traces of methylmercury. To prevent people from getting toxic methylmercury levels from eating seafood the FDA made these recommendations:
Women who are trying to become pregnant, who are pregnant or are breastfeeding should be especially careful about following these suggestions as the fetus, neonate and infant brain and spinal cord seems especially sensitive to all forms of mercury poisoning.
Mercury Poisoning Prevention - Vaccines
Another source of concern by people is the use of thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in vaccine preparations. Except for some influenza vaccines, it is not being used in most vaccines. However, the amount of mercury in thimerosal is very low. In 2008, the CDC recommended that current flu vaccines are safe to use in pregnant women and children because they contain very little mercury.
Mercury Poisoning Outlook
The prognosis for mercury poisoning depends on many factors:
Early treatment of any form of mercury poisoning has a good chance of improving the prognosis (reducing tissue damage and neurological effects of the toxins). Unfortunately, if the diagnosis and subsequent treatment is delayed, which has happened often in the past, many outcomes are only fair to poor with the patient experiencing residual or profound neurological deficits. This outcome is often seen with organic mercury poisoning because exposure usually occurs over a long length of time before characteristic signs and symptoms develop.
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care
Last Reviewed 12/13/2017
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Mercury Poisoning - Patient Experience
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