Mercury is a natural element that can take take the form of a metal, a liquid, or a vapor. In addition, organic material can combine with mercury to form compounds such as methylmercury, one of the most dangerous forms of mercury.
There are two common ways in which people are exposed to mercury. The first is inhalation of mercury vapors. Among the most common sources of mercury vapors are:
- Power plants that burn coal
- Liquid mercury spills
- Volcanic activity
- Burning medical waste
A person can also become exposed to mercury through the consumption of fish. Because mercury does not break down, fish build up high levels of methylmercury through the food chain by consuming smaller fish and aquatic plants.
Mercury Poisoning Symptoms
Exposure to high levels of mercury can lead to mercury poisoning. The symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
- Speech difficulties
- Walking difficulties
- Brain damage
- Kidney damage
- Lung damage
Because mercury poisoning and autism share similar symptoms, some experts have speculated that mercury poisoning may be related to autism.
Mercury and Thimerosal
Thimerosal is a preservative used in vaccines that contain a small amount of mercury. This mercury converts into ethylmercury once it enters the body. There is no evidence that ethylmercury, unlike methylmercury, is toxic to humans. Nevertheless, concerns about a possible link between mercury poisoning and autism led the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Public Health Service (PHS), and vaccine manufacturers to agree to the reduce or eliminate altogether the amount of thimerosal in pediatric vaccines.
Learn More from an Experienced Chemical Exposure Attorney
If you or a member of your family has been harmed by mercury or thimerosal, you are encouraged to contact an attorney experienced in thimerosal or mercury poisoning litigation for an evaluation of your potential case.