How is someone exposed to mercury?
Due to it’s widespread occurrence, most people have some exposure to mercury. However, many studies have shown that most people have a blood mercury level below those associated with possible health effects.
Most exposures are in the organic form of methylmercury from eating fish or shellfish.
Exposures to elemental mercury typically occurs when it is spilled or products containing it break and release mercury into the air or from the release of mercury from dental work or medical treatments.
Can exposure to mercury make me sick?
Yes. High mercury levels can harm the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, and the immune systems of people of all ages. However, the effects of mercury can be severe, subtle, or not appear at all. This all depends on the form of mercury exposure, how much mercury you are exposed to, how long you were exposed to it, the route of exposure (breathing, eating, etc.), and the age and health of the person exposed. Fetuses, infants, and children are the most susceptible to effects from mercury exposure due to their developing bodies. Pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant should avoid eating fish with high amounts of methylmercury.
What should I do if I believe I have had a high exposure to mercury?
People concerned about an exposure to mercury should consult their physician. Blood tests can determine the level of mercury in the body.