The Dangers of mercury in the fetus

Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") recently reported that approximately 630,000 newborns in the United States have unsafe amounts of mercury in their blood derived from cord blood contaminated mothers. The report showed that mercury accumulates in cord blood at a level 1.7 times higher than in maternal blood. This means that a woman who had blood mercury levels of about 3.5 parts per billion could have a newborn baby with mercury concentrations greater than 5.8 parts per billion, the current safety limit for mercury. About one in every six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in their blood to get into that category and threaten the fetus according to statistics presented by EPA researcher Dr. Kathryn Mahaffey, the author of the report.

High mercury levels among women of childbearing is associated with the consumption of fish species that contain high concentrations of mercury. These species include tilefish, shark, king mackerel, tuna and swordfish. Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings to pregnant women about the dangers of eating large predatory fish. EPA also recently advised the public about the high levels of other contaminants, polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, in salmon farming.

Mercury exposure can permanently damage the brain, kidneys and developing fetus. This can cause neurological deficits and changes in vision, hearing, and memory among all segments of the population. Women exposed to high levels of methyl-mercury during pregnancy have a greater risk of having children with development problems, including mental retardation, lack of coordination, and delays in learning to walk and talk.

According to EPA, other sources of mercury in the general population is the smoke from coal power plants, industrial boilers and combustion of hazardous waste. Because the air when the mercury can be emitted from sources, eventually falling to the ground, where he entered the soil and groundwater. Microorganisms and then convert a portion of the mercury to methyl-mercury, toxic organic substances. Intake of methyl-mercury by small organisms which then get eaten by larger animals in the contamination of the food chain as a whole. This is highlighted by the fact that at each stage, the number of methyl-mercury becomes more concentrated.

Mercury also occurs in the form of shiny metal as a liquid and can form mercury salts when combined with chlorine oxygen, sulfur, or. Mercury use in chlorine production, as well as in thermometers, dental fillings, and batteries.

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