Mercury Toxicity and Mental Health Lincoln NE

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Mercury Toxicity and Mental Health

Mercury Toxicity has Potential to Effect Mental Health.
Date: Monday, June 15, 2009
Source: Journal of Forensic Science
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Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature and its chemical symbol is Hg. Mercury is found in organic and inorganic forms, all of which can produce toxic effects in high enough doses. Toxic effects include damage to the brain, kidneys, and lungs. Symptoms typically include sensory impairment such as vision, hearing, speech, disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination. The fish consumption is the most significant source of ingestion-related mercury exposure in humans. Plants and livestock also contain mercury due to bioaccumulation of mercury from soil, water and atmosphere, and by ingesting other mercury-containing organisms. Exposure to mercury can occur from breathing contaminated air; from eating foods containing mercury residues from processing such as high fructose corn syrup; from exposure to mercury vapor in mercury amalgam dental restorations; and from improper use or disposal of mercury and mercury-containing objects, for example, after spills of elemental mercury or improper disposal of fluorescent light bulbs.

Mental health is how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad or stressed sometimes. But with a mental illness, these feelings do not go away and are severe enough to interfere with your daily life. It can make it hard to meet and keep friends, hold a job or enjoy your life. Mental illnesses are common - they affect about one in five families in the U.S. It is not your fault if you have one. These disorders - depression, phobias, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and many others - are real diseases that you cannot will or wish away. Fortunately, they are often treatable. Medicines and therapy can improve the life of most people with mental illnesses.

A study published in the Journal of Forensic Science suggests that chemical exposure and resultant toxicant bioaccumulation are correlated with pathophysiology in neurological development and brain function. Various studies have shown that some chemical toxicants, which modify brain physiology have the potential to affect mood, cognitive function, and to provoke socially undesirable outcomes. The author of the study, Stephen J. Genuis, MD, a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, reported on a young man who presented with psychiatric symptoms and diagnosis. It was found that the young man consumed large amounts of tuna, which is known to be frequently contaminated with mercury. Mercury is known to accumulate in brain tissue and to act as a neurotoxin. The young man abstained from tuna and was medically chelated and his symptoms subsequently disappeared completely. It seems that this research indicates that health professionals should consider toxicant exposure and adverse chemical accumulation as a potential cause when individuals present with inexplicable mental health problems or disordered behavior.1

1 Genuis SJ. Toxicant exposure and mental health--individual, social, and public health considerations. J Forensic Sci. 2009;54(2):474-7.

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