Mercury: why it’s a health hazard and how to avoid it

Mercury: why it’s a health hazard and how to avoid it

The fight against mercury to protect our health. Because of this chemical element arise very strong risks for our organism, as well as for the stability of the ecosystem. It can be ingested by eating, especially with fish, or by using beauty products. And in the past, we introduced it into our mouths, through dental fillings. With this in mind, UNEP, the United Nations organization for the protection of the environment, has launched an information campaign, on a global scale, to raise public awareness.

Excessive exposure can indeed cause various ailments, ranging from “simple” headaches or nausea, to the onset of serious illnesses such as cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), two groups of people are particularly at risk: unborn children, whose mothers have high blood mercury levels, and those who are regularly exposed to the agent, like fishermen. . But not only.

Food is one way mercury can be released into the body. Seafood is the main source of protein for over three billion people around the world. As the chemical builds up the food chain, large fish like shark, swordfish, tuna, and marlin tend to be particularly high in mercury. People who eat very large amounts of seafood run the risk of ingesting a large amount.

Cosmetics: be careful when buying

Another danger is represented by cosmetic products. Mercury is also present in beauty products, especially creams, but also in make-up and eye cleaning products. Of course, many countries have introduced strict regulations banning it from cosmetics. But many more haven’t and these types of products are readily available online. In this case, the security tool is that of conscious purchase.

Specifically, mercury poses a threat to the health of miners. “Mercury poisoning also poses a serious and direct threat to the health of the 12 to 15 million people working in the sector around the world,” says UNEP. But there is an additional effect. Artisanal and small-scale mines emitted about 800 tons of mercury to the air, about 38% of the global total, and also released about 1,200 tons of mercury to soil and water. Reducing fossil fuels is also important in this regard. Coal burning not only contributes to air pollution and the climate crisis, but is also a major source of anthropogenic mercury emissions.

Mercury in dental amalgams

The mercury spread a lot every time we went to the dentist. For more than a hundred years, mercury has been one of the main ingredients in dental amalgam, the mixture used to fill the cavities of their patients’ teeth. But “while amalgam probably poses only a minimal threat to the health of those who have it, amalgam use also contributes to a gradual buildup of the toxic element in our environment,” the researchers found. United Nations. One more reason to give it up.

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