Dangers of Mercury
How is Mercury released into the environment?
Mercury is introduced to the environment through both natural and manmade processes. Volcanoes, oceans, and soils can acquire mercury, and gold/ore mining, medical waste incineration, combustion, and fossil fuel sources can release the toxic element.
Most Americans are not at risk of Mercury poisoning. However, women who are pregnant and young children have a higher risk of coming in contact with the dangerous health aspects regarding the toxic material. Mercury is mainly acquired through fish consumption, since mercury in the water can travel through trophic levels in the oceans. Since these are mainly low levels that will not cause health risks, many are not worried about the risks we are taking. Large amounts of fish and sushi could cause serious harm, however, since the levels add up over time.
Mercury targets the Central Nervous System, and can cause trembling hands and numbness in fingers and toes. Walking, vision, speech, and hearing can also be affected.
Mercury levels can damage entire ecosystems and the animals in these waters. When one level of the food chain is damaged, this keystone species can affect the entire communities of species involved.