Munson Health
Mercury Toxicity

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by McCoy K

(Mercury Poisoning)



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.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

US Environmental Protection Agency

US Food and Drug Administration



Health Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada



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ToxFAQs for mercury. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. Available at: 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: Updated March 29, 2013. Accessed April 26, 2013.

12/10/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance 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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