Liquid mercury poisoning is a serious disease caused by the exposure to mercury and its compounds. There are numerous toxic effects to mercury exposure. They include damage to the brain, kidney and lungs. Several diseases can be developed due to mercury poisoning, such as acordynia, Hunter-Russell syndrome and Minamata disease.
Symptoms may vary from one case to another, but they are most likely going to include sensory impairment, lack of coordination, as well as disturbed sensation.
Other symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
- Impairment of peripheral vision;
- Disturbance in sensations;
- Lack of coordination of movements;
- Impairment of speech, hearing and walking;
- Muscle weakness;
- Skin rashes;
- Mood swing;
- Memory loss;
- Mental disturbances.
People exposed to various levels of liquid mercury can experience a series of health problems. They can include central nervous system and birth defects, in some causes mercury poisoning actually leading to death.
The health effects of mercury exposure will depend on a series of factors, including the chemical form of the metal, the route of exposure and also the level of exposure. It is important to know that vapors from liquid elemental mercury and methyl mercury are much easier to absorb by the human body, so in this form the metal is believed to be the more dangerous, causing more harm.
Mercury poisoning case
One of the most serious cases of mercury poisoning dates back to January 2004, when residents in northern Nevada were exposed to such vapors. Actually, dozens of middle school children in Gardnerville were exposed to the element. Symptoms started to be felt less than a week after the event. Severe poisoning cases from mercury exposure were soon registered.
A quarter cup of mercury was brought to this Gardnerville school by a student. It managed to contaminate classrooms, a school bus, children and their belongings. Not only that a series of people had to suffer from this situation, but the state had to spend over $100,000 on decontamination efforts. The entire school had to be closed and weeks were spent in the efforts of decontaminating the institution. Since children belongings have been affected, too, they had to be destroyed.
High levels of mercury vapors are extremely hard to eliminate. The vapors have almost killed the boy who brought the mercury to school. An important part of his family’s personal property also had to be destroyed, as contamination levels were too high. Even the family’s dog experienced severe symptoms of mercury poisoning.
Mercury can be used with many legitimate and safe purposes. However, people are not aware of the extreme danger that mercury can represent. Mercury spills, regardless of quantity and form, can cause a series of health problems. When liquid mercury is spilled, drops are formed. They can accumulate even in the tiniest spaces and then emit vapors.
Health problems determined by mercury will mostly depend on how much mercury has entered the body, how it affected the body and how long the individual has been exposed to it. People can respond differently to this substance.
Even though cases of harmful effects due to mercury exposure are rare thanks to the efforts made to strictly control use, they still exist.