Mercury - a lethal compound found everywhere

Mercury - a lethal compound found everywhere
Mercury is widely used in various products. It is available in three major forms, namely elemental, inorganic and organic. Although mercury has a variety of important applications, almost all the forms of it are found to be toxic. Majorly, coal-fired power plants, fossil-fuel burning, cement production, mercury mining, artisanal gold and silver mining, waste incineration and landfills from mining tailings result in the release of mercury in the environment and pave way for pollution through this heavy metal. Many of the industrial processes and products are found to use mercury as a constituent including chlor-alkali production, thermometer, sphygmomanometer, etc. It is also being used in day-to-day consumables, such as skin ointments for infection, laxatives, antiseptics, antibacterial preservatives, skin lightening products, cosmetics, etc. Due to the wide usage of mercury in many vital applications, the pollution has become inevitable in due course. Researches show that, the long term exposure to this metal could be toxic. Inorganic mercury compounds are soluble in water and cause irritation and gastro-intestinal problems. They could get accumulated in the kidney and cause damage to it. Elemental mercury may be inhaled, absorbed and distributed in the system causing damage to the brain and kidney. Other symptoms of mercuric poisoning are fatigue, nervousness, irritability, severe headache, insomnia, memory loss, loss of strength in legs, tingling or burning sensation, shivering of hands, depression, metallic taste in mouth, high level of mercury in urine, chest pain, discolouration of nails and corrosion of mucous membrane. Hence, consumers must be aware of the ingredients of the products that they use, and should take preventive measures to reduce the long-term usage of such consumables. Also, the governmental regulatory bodies should focus on analysing the products containing mercury and should take necessary actions for limiting the usage of the same in regularly used consumables in order to reduce and eliminate mercury from the living environment.
How to cite this article:
Prasidhee V. Mercury - a lethal compound found everywhere. BioLim O-Media. 23 December, 2014. 2(10).
Available from: http://archive.biolim.org/omedia/read/BOMA0068.