Why Mercury?

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Exposure to mercury threatens human health especially developing fetuses and young children are at a higher risk.

ercury exists in three forms: elemental mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds. All forms of mercury are extremely toxic, and each form makes different kinds of health effects on human beings and the ecosystem, even though mercury has been long used for scientific research applications, the gold extraction process, and in amalgam for dental restoration in some parts of the world.

The inhalation of mercury vapor can produce severe effects on the central nervous system, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal.

Mercury occurs naturally in the earth’s crust, but human activities, such as the burning of coal, oil, and wood, mining and fuel combustion, have led to widespread global mercury pollution. Mercury release occurs both naturally such as volcanic eruption and land emission through the soil, and anthropogenic processes (human activities) such as artisanal and small–scale gold mining, fossil fuel burning, and primary production of non-ferrous metals. Although it is relatively small percentages of emission, the other sources of mercury emission are cement production, consumer products waste, contaminated sites, and the Chlor-alkali industry.

In the regions closer to plate tectonic boundaries, where soils are enriched with minerals such as cinnabar containing Mercury sulfide (HgS) released by either natural weathering of the rocks or by geothermal reactions. Mercury is precipitated into the oceans predominantly from the air in three main forms; in the state of gas (Hg0) by the process of air-water exchange, wet and dry precipitation of inorganic mercury (Hg2+ or HgII), and particle-bound mercury (Hg(P)). The other natural water channels also deliver mercury into the ocean. Organic mercury compounds called methyl mercury can also be discharged from these which will undergo chemical transformations such as oxidation-reduction, adsorption processes, and methylation-demethylation.

Each one of us suffers the consequence of environmental pollution problems since the industrial revolution. Minamata disease is one of the consequence of environmental pollutions due to the mercury poisoning.

The awareness of mercury intoxication and the sources of contamination should be alerted in order to prevent the health and pollution problems.

Exposure to mercury threatens human health especially developing fetuses and young children are at a higher risk.