Munson Health
 
Mercury Toxicity

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by McCoy K

(Mercury Poisoning)

 

Prevention

To help reduce your chances of getting mercury toxicity, take the following steps:
  • Avoid using metallic mercury for any purpose.
  • If you must use metallic mercury, keep it safely stored in a leak-proof container in a secure space, such as a locking closet.
  • Trade in old thermometers or barometers containing mercury for new ones that do not.
  • Carefully handle and dispose of items containing mercury, such as thermometers and fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Do not vacuum or heat spilled mercury.
  • Teach children not to play with silver liquids.
  • Properly dispose of old medications that contain mercury.
  • Keep mercury-containing medications away from children.
  • Learn about wildlife and fish advisories in your area from your local public health or natural resources department.
  • Limit fish intake to recommended quantities and avoid fish known to be contaminated by mercury:
    • Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish.
    • Eat up to 12 ounces of fish and shellfish considered lower in mercury per week. These fish include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
    • Eat up to 6 ounces of white albacore tuna per week.
    • If you want to eat local fish, check to make sure the water is not contaminated. In general, limit your intake of local fish to 6 ounces.
If you spill a small amount of metallic mercury:
  • Remove children from the area.
  • DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner.
  • Carefully roll the bead of mercury onto a sheet of paper or suck it up with an eyedropper.
  • Place the bead in a bag or airtight container.
  • Contact your local health department to find out how to dispose of the mercury and paper or eye dropper.
  • Ventilate the room to the outside.
  • Use fans to speed ventilation for at least one hour.
 

RESOURCES

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

US Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.epa.gov

US Food and Drug Administration
http://www.fda.gov

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

 

References


Composite filings. American Dental Association's Mouth Healthy website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/c/composite-fillings.aspx. Accessed April 26, 2013.


Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. McGraw Hill; 2005.


Kelly BC, Ikonomou MG, et al. Mercury and other trace elements in farmed and wild salmon from British Columbia, Canada. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2008;27(6):1361-1370.


Oken E, Bellinger DC. Fish consumption, methylmercury and child neurodevelopment. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2008;20(2):178-183.


ToxFAQs for mercury. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. Available at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=1195&tid=24. Updated October 19, 2011. Accessed April 26, 2013.


What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm110591.htm. Updated March 29, 2013. Accessed April 26, 2013.


12/10/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Vearrier D, Greenberg MI. Care of patients who are worried about mercury poisoning from dental fillings. J Am Board Fam Med. 2010;23(6):797-798.

 

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