Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mercury, mercury, where art thou mercury?

I can't even count how many times people have said to me, "Where would your children get mercury poisoning??"  Most people don't realize they encounter this nasty heavy metal every day.  You don't need to have silver fillings to be toxic, although, if you do, it's likely you ARE toxic.

The reason we are accumulating these toxins is, because of an inability to detox naturally.  There are many systems associated with our ability to detox, from the liver to hormones and even nutritional status.  Our bodies are like fine-tuned engines, we require a specific form of "fuel" to function optimally.  When any of these pieces are out of place, the strain on the body is great.  If we can't detox, not only do the toxins pile up causing increased symptoms, but the ability to detox is continuously reduced in the process.  The snow ball just keeps growing and growing.

So where can we find mercury?

-High efficiency light bulbs - supposedly "green" my ass!  Imagine what  would happen, if everyone is MANDATED to use these and they end up in landfills daily.  What then?  You think the autism rates are high now, just wait!  Mark my words.  Thank goodness, that has currently been overturned.  Break one of these suckers and you have just reproduced a mini hazardous waste site in your home.  And did you know there is actually a procedure on how to handle it?  I bet you never looked that up, just in case your battery breaks.  No one plans on breaking a bulb, that is why it is called an accident!  Here are the EPA's guidelines, notice they downplay the situation a bit, but still bring attention to the fact that there IS a way to do it, as well as a way NOT to do it!  Hello, safety issue?!

-Lighting and Electrical Applications - Fluorescent lamps are commonly found in garages and home workshop areas, they buzz and crackle when you turn them on, lol.  Spent lamps must be managed properly, because they contain mercury.  A number of communities have begun to collect lamps from residents (not mine) and from their municipal buildings. Careful handling and storage is essential so that mercury is not released via breakage.  If you do break one, refer to the link above for the EPA clean-up guidelines.

-Batteries - The best thing I can do for this topic is provide this link which goes into great detail about the types of mercury in batteries (with specifics) and which companies are phasing mercury out of their batteries.  There aren't enough companies on that list, as far as I am concerned!  The issue here isn't just related to exposure to the batteries themselves, but the production of them.  How many families are effected by the factory jobs related to making them?  What is this mercury doing to our environment?  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

-Fish/seafood - There used to be fish that were deemed safe, now there are fish that are "safer"....get that distinction?  They used to say that you should just avoid the big fish, like Tuna, but now, eat too much fish, period, and you will have a mercury problem, guaranteed.  Just ask Jeremy Pivens who was eating a lot of Sushi (high grade fish) and became toxic enough that he required chelation therapy!  See his story here.

Good news to my ears is that Maine lobsters remain to be the lowest in mercury, yippee for our trips to Maine every year.  That is one luxury I am not yet willing to give up for myself or our kids.  It's a tradition and it's YUMMY....heck, it's only once a year and it's a perfect match for our ghee (clarified butter, which is normally used in restaurants for lobster and is also casein-free)!

-Vaccines - ok, so this requires it's own book completely, which is why there are many out there, but what I would like to say on this topic is that independent studies have confirmed that there are still vaccinations made with mercury and even though they are not necessarily listed on the ingredients like they are with the more obvious flu and Hep B vaccines.  In order for mercury to make it to a label, there has to be over a certain amount.  When mercury is used in the production of a vaccination (and most are) they remove it afterwards, leaving traces behind, low enough that they don't required label identification.  This was taken directly from the FDA website:

FDA is continuing its efforts toward reducing or removing thimerosal from all existing vaccines. Much progress has been made to date. FDA has been actively working with manufacturers, particularly those that manufacture childhood vaccines, to reach the goal of eliminating thimerosal from vaccines, and has been collaborating with other PHS agencies to further evaluate the potential health effects of thimerosal. In this regard, all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age or younger and marketed in the U.S. contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts (1 microgram or less mercury per dose), with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine, which was first recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in 2004 for routine use in children 6 to 23 months of age.

Then they go and add a nice dose of aluminum to that very vaccine, now you have a recipe for disaster, literally.  Are you worried yet?  If not, you should be!  Mixing aluminum and mercury is a biohazard occurring right in your body (or the body of your innocent and very small child, or both, if you are pregnant).  Mercury levels above 58 micrograms (mcg), millionths of a gram, are associated with neurodevelopmental effects in the fetus, the CDC report states.  Did you know that flu shots still contain 24-25mcg/.5mL?  This is reported by the Institute for Vaccine Safety.  What I find interesting is that you will never find both of these pieces of information on either of their sites, together.  Gee, I wonder why.

Again, taken right from the FDA

As a vaccine preservative, thimerosal is used in concentrations of 0.003% to 0.01%. A vaccine containing 0.01% thimerosal as a preservative contains 50 micrograms of thimerosal per 0.5 ml dose or approximately 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 mL dose. The use of mercury-containing preservatives in vaccines has declined markedly since 1999.

DECLINED....not removed entirely. 

-Amalgam fillings - My favorite mercury topic, by far.....50% mercury, by weight.  Did your dentist tell you that before he filled all those pretty white teeth with the only insurance-approved metal?  Probably not, in fact, even when asked now, many dentists won't even acknowledge the question, or they shrug it off with a callused, "it isn't enough to harm you".  Oh, and one I really like, "It's the same as eating a can of tuna fish".  Yeah, maybe if it was organic and that doesn't even matter, because both are dangerous to your health, so what do you think is happening as each one of your fillings off-gas mercury vapors day in and day out, maybe more like eating a can of tuna fish every hour!!   Check out "Smoking Teeth" from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and learn exactly how much mercury is releasing from just one filling all day, then multiply that by the number of fillings you are lucky enough to have.  Serious exposure there!  Mercury DOES cross the placenta and travel through breast milk then to add insult to injury, we pass down three generations of heavy metals adding each of our own toxicities to the mix, get the picture yet?  THEN, take a look at the symptoms of mercury toxicity and put them beside the symptoms of autism, better yet, just get out a mirror, because, surprise, surprise - they are the same.  The cascade of health deterioration with mercury involved is very real and it makes other illnesses much more severe, such as parasitic infections, Lyme Disease, and mold toxicity.  I bet if any Lyme patient was looked at a bit more closely, you would find mercury toxicity.   For many of these autoimmune diseases, they are just the tip of the iceberg....
                                                            MERCURY POISONING                        AUTISM

Psychiatric Social deficits, shyness, social withdrawal Social deficits, social withdrawal, shyness
Disturbances Depression, mood swings; mask face Depressive traits, mood swings; flat affect
  Anxiety Anxiety
  Schizoid tendencies, OCD traits Schizophrenic & OCD traits; repetitiveness
  Lacks eye contact, hesitant to engage others Lack of eye contact, avoids conversation
  Irrational fears Irrational fears
  Irritability, aggression, temper tantrums Irritability, aggression, temper tantrums
  Impaired face recognition Impaired face recognition
Speech, Loss of speech, failure to develop speech Delayed language, failure to develop speech
Language & Dysarthria; articulation problems Dysarthria; articulation problems
Hearing Speech comprehension deficits Speech comprehension deficits
Deficits Verbalizing & word retrieval problems Echolalia; word use & pragmatic errors
  Sound sensitivity Sound sensitivity
  Hearing loss; deafness in very high doses Mild to profound hearing loss
  Poor performance on language IQ tests Poor performance on verbal IQ tests
Sensory Abnormal sensation in mouth & extremities Abnormal sensation in mouth & extremities
Abnormalities Sound sensitivity Sound sensitivity
  Abnormal touch sensations; touch aversion Abnormal touch sensations; touch aversion
  Vestibular abnormalities Vestibular abnormalities
Motor Disorders Involuntary jerking movements - arm flapping, ankle jerks, myoclonal jerks, choreiform movements, circling, rocking Stereotyped movements - arm flapping, jumping, circling, spinning, rocking; myoclonal jerks; choreiform movements
  Deficits in eye-hand coordination; limb apraxia; intention tremors Poor eye-hand coordination; limb apraxia; problems with intentional movements
  Gait impairment; ataxia – from incoordination & clumsiness to inability to walk, stand, or sit; loss of motor control Abnormal gait and posture, clumsiness and incoordination; difficulties sitting, lying, crawling, and walking
  Difficulty in chewing or swallowing Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  Unusual postures Unusual postures
Cognitive Impairments Borderline intelligence, mental retardation - some cases reversible Borderline intelligence, mental retardation - sometimes "recovered"
  Poor concentration, attention, response inhibition Poor concentration, attention, shifting attention
  Uneven performance on IQ subtests Uneven performance on IQ subtests
  Verbal IQ higher than performance IQ Verbal IQ higher than performance IQ
  Poor short term, verbal, & auditory memory Poor short term, auditory & verbal memory
  Poor visual and perceptual motor skills, impairment in simple reaction time Poor visual and perceptual motor skills, lower performance on timed tests
  Difficulty carrying out complex commands Difficulty carrying out multiple commands
  Alexia (inability to comprehend the meaning of written words) Hyperlexia (ability to decode words while lacking word comprehension)
  Deficits in understanding abstract ideas & symbolism; degeneration of higher mental powers Deficits in abstract thinking & symbolism, understanding other’s mental states, sequencing, planning & organizing

Stereotyped sniffing (rats) Stereotyped, repetitive behaviors
Behaviors ADHD traits ADHD traits
  Agitation, unprovoked crying, grimacing, staring spells Agitation, unprovoked crying, grimacing, staring spells
  Sleep difficulties Sleep difficulties
  Eating disorders, feeding problems Eating disorders, feeding problems
  Self injurious behavior, e.g. head banging Self injurious behavior, e.g. head banging
Visual Poor eye contact, impaired visual fixation Poor eye contact, problems in joint attention
Impairments “Visual impairments,” blindness, near-sightedness, decreased visual acuity “Visual impairments”; inaccurate/slow saccades; decreased rod functioning
  Light sensitivity, photophobia Over-sensitivity to light
  Blurred or hazy vision Blurred vision
  Constricted visual fields Not described
Physical Disturbances Increase in cerebral palsy; hyper- or hypo-tonia; abnormal reflexes; decreased muscle strength, especially upper body; incontinence; problems chewing, swallowing, salivating Increase in cerebral palsy; hyper- or hypotonia; decreased muscle strength, especially upper body; incontinence; problems chewing and swallowing
  Rashes, dermatitis/dry skin, itching; burning Rashes, dermatitis, eczema, itching
  Autonomic disturbance:  excessive sweating, poor circulation, elevated heart rate Autonomic disturbance:  unusual sweating, poor circulation, elevated heart rate
Gastro-intestinal Gastroenteritis, diarrhea; abdominal pain, constipation, “colitis” Diarrhea, constipation, gaseousness, abdominal discomfort, colitis
Disturbances Anorexia, weight loss, nausea, poor appetite Anorexia; feeding problems/vomiting
  Lesions of ileum & colon; increases gut permeability Leaky gut syndrome
  Inhibits dipeptidyl peptidase IV, which cleaves casomorphin Inadequate endopeptidase enzymes needed for breakdown of casein & gluten
Abnormal Biochemistry Ties up -SH groups; blocks sulfate transporter in intestines, kidneys Low sulfate levels
  Has special affinity for purines & pyrimidines Purine & pyrimidine metabolism errors lead to autistic features
  Reduces availability of glutathione, needed in cells & liver to detoxify heavy metals Low levels of glutathione; decreased ability of liver to detoxify heavy metals
  Causes significant reduction in  glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase Abnormal glutathione peroxidase activities in erythrocytes
  Disrupts mitochondrial activities, especially in brain Mitochondrial dysfunction, especially in brain
Immune Dysfunction Sensitivity due to allergic or autoimmune reactions; sensitive individuals more likely to have allergies, asthma, autoimmune-like symptoms, especially rheumatoid-like ones More likely to have allergies and asthma; familial presence of autoimmune diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis; IgA deficiencies
  Can produce an immune response in CNS On-going immune response in CNS
  Causes brain/MBP autoantibodies  Brain/MBP autoantibodies present
  Causes overproduction of Th2 subset; kills/inhibits lymphocytes, T-cells, and monocytes; decreases NK T-cell activity; induces or suppresses IFNg & IL-2 Skewed immune-cell subset in the Th2 direction; decreased responses to T-cell mitogens; reduced NK T-cell function; increased IFNg & IL-12
CNS Structural Pathology Selectively targets brain areas unable to detoxify or reduce Hg-induced oxidative stress Specific areas of brain pathology; many functions spared
  Damage to Purkinje and granular cells Damage to Purkinje and granular cells
  Accummulates in amygdala and hippocampus Pathology in amygdala and hippocampus
  Causes abnormal neuronal cytoarchitecture; disrupts neuronal migration & cell division; reduces NCAMs Neuronal disorganization; increased neuronal cell replication, increased glial cells; depressed expression of NCAMs
  Progressive microcephaly Progressive microcephaly and macrocephaly
  Brain stem defects in some cases Brain stem defects in some cases
Abnormalities in Neuro-chemistry Prevents presynaptic serotonin release & inhibits serotonin transport; causes calcium disruptions Decreased serotonin synthesis in children;  abnormal calcium metabolism
  Alters dopamine systems; peroxidine deficiency in rats resembles mercurialism in humans Possibly high or low dopamine levels; positive response to peroxidine (lowers dopamine levels)
  Elevates epinephrine & norepinephrine levels by blocking enzyme that degrades epinephrine Elevated norepinephrine and epinephrine
  Elevates glutamate Elevated glutamate and aspartate
  Leads to cortical acetylcholine deficiency; increases muscarinic receptor density in hippocampus & cerebellum Cortical acetylcholine deficiency; reduced muscarinic receptor binding in hippocampus
  Causes demyelating neuropathy Demyelation in brain
EEG Abnormalities/ Causes abnormal EEGs, epileptiform activity Abnormal EEGs, epileptiform activity
Epilepsy Causes seizures, convulsions Seizures; epilepsy
  Causes subtle, low amplitude seizure activity Subtle, low amplitude seizure activities
Population Effects more males than females Male:female ratio estimated at 4:1
Characteristics At low doses, only affects those genetically susceptible High heritability - concordance for MZ twins is 90%
  First added to childhood vaccines in 1930s First "discovered" among children born in 1930s
  Exposure levels steadily increased since 1930s with rate of vaccination, number of vaccines Prevalence of autism has steadily increased from 1 in 2000 (1940s) to 1 in 500 (1990s)
   Exposure occurs at 0 - 15 months; clinical silent stage means symptom emergence delayed; symptoms emerge gradually, starting with movement & sensation Symptoms emerge from 4 months to 2 years old; symptoms emerge gradually, starting with movement & sensation

If that doesn't convince you, I honestly don't know what will.  Thanks to ARC research for this comprehensive list!

-Pesticides - Organochlorine pesticides like Aldrin and Endrin and Dieldrin, used in the United States for decades, were mostly eliminated from use in the late 1980s according to Dr. Gerberding.  So this should make us feel better about pesticides, right?  Well, what about this little tidbit of information?

Mercury is only removed from the biosphere when it reaches sediments deep under the oceans or when it is immobilized in controlled landfills. This implies that, even as we gradually eliminate mercury releases from human activity, levels in the environment will take several decades or longer to go back down.

-Pharmaceuticals - Mercury can be found in some topical disinfectants, like Mercurochrome, Tincture of Merthiolate and older medications for psoriasis and eczema. It is also found in some over-the-counter nasal sprays (yum), hemorrhoidal ointments (child birth anyone?) and eye and contact lens products (ouch).  Be sure to read labels!

-Major appliances - Mercury-containing thermostat probes can be found in several types of gas-fired appliances that have pilot lights, including ranges, ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces and space heaters. That little metal probe you've probably noticed in the back of your oven consists of a metal bulb and thin tube attached to a gas-control valve. Also known as a flame sensor or gas safety valve, it prevents gas flow if the pilot light is not lit. Although non-mercury thermostat probes are also used in these appliances, treat all probes as though they contain mercury, unless you know that they do not. If you decide to trash your stove, the probe should be removed and stored in a covered container until it can be taken to a consolidation site.

-Thermometers (fever, candy, deep fry, oven, indoor and outdoor with a silvery temperature indicator) - Thermometers are one of the largest sources of mercury discarded in municipal solid waste. Many communities, including Boston, are now banning the sale of mercury fever thermometers and offering exchanges by giving out mercury-free alternatives such as digital thermometers.  Health Care Without Harm has produced a resource guide entitled “How to Plan and Hold a Mercury Thermometer Exchange.” To obtain a copy, go to Health Care Without Harm.

Important - If you break a thermometer, do not vacuum the mercury up, this will spread it throughout the house. Instead, put on rubber or disposable gloves (not leather work gloves!) and scoop up the silvery liquid with an appropriate utensil. Handle the liquid very carefully and capture it in a firm container with a tight cover. This container should not be reused. Contact your local board of health for additional suggestions on collection and disposal. The collected mercury should be recycled whenever possible.

-Barometers and Manometer - Many barometers and vacuum gauges found in machinery contain mercury. Liquid mercury in the gauges responds to air pressure in a precise way that can be read on a calibrated scale.  Mercury-free alternatives are available.

-Thermostats - Mercury-containing tilt switches have been used in thermostats for more than 40 years. Each switch contains approximately 3 grams of mercury. Electronic thermostats provide many enhanced features and are mercury-free. The manufacturers of thermostats have established a take back program. For information contact the Thermostat Recycling Corporation at 1-800-238-8192.

-Coal and cement plants nearby? - They pollute the air, what more do you need to know?  In all seriousness, mercury exists naturally in coal, making coal-fired power plants the largest source of mercury pollution in this country. Coal accounts for nearly 50% of the electricity generated in this country—and almost 50 tons of mercury emissions annually. According to the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice, all the cement kilns in the U.S. combined pump out roughly 23,000 pounds of mercury every year. The mercury comes from coal, which is used to fuel the cement-manufacturing process, as well as limestone, another natural source of the heavy metal. The group released a report last July finding that, individually, some cement kilns emit nearly one and a half times more mercury than the most polluting coal-fired power plants. But because there are fewer kilns, they account for lower levels of atmospheric mercury overall than coal plants.

-Fossil fuel, and to a lesser extent, gas and oil - I bet you didn't even realize that even electricity releases mercury?!  The EPA reported that U.S. electric utilities released 48 tons of mercury in 1999, the latest year data is available.  More from the EPA:

Mercury is a trace component of all fossil fuels, including natural gas, gas condensates, crude oil, coal, tar sands, and other bitumens. The use of fossil hydrocarbons as fuels provides the main opportunity for releasing emissions of the mercury they contain into the atmospheric environment, but other avenues also exist in production, transportation, and processing systems. These other avenues may provide mercury directly to air, water, or solid waste streams.

-Chlor-alkali plants - Per Rodale, Chlorine bleach, laundry detergent, cheap vinyl purses, shoes, and toys made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC)—making all these products required the use of chlorine gas at some point. The chlor-alkali plants that produce it use mercury to convert salt to chlorine gas, and to convert salt to caustic soda, or lye, which is then used in products like detergent, plastics, and bleach. The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says that while most modern chlor-alkali plants have switched to mercury-free technology, there are still seven plants in the U.S. that use it, and each one has roughly 200 tons of mercury on site at any given time. An unknown amount of that mercury gets lost during manufacturing, whether to the air or surrounding waterways; a 2006 report from NRDC found that operators at four of these plants could account for only 29 of the 159 tons of the mercury they used from 2000 to 2004. (As reported earlier this year, some of those plants also make the ubiquitous food ingredient high-fructose corn syrup, and may be tainting food products with mercury.) Avoid chlorine-containing products like chlorine bleach, as well as anything made from polyvinyl chloride, including cheap handbags and shower curtains. Also look for chlorine-free paper products; paper production is the sixth largest mercury emitter in this country. Buy unbleached paper towels, coffee filters, and office paper. For the latter, look for the “Totally Chlorine Free” or “Processed Chlorine Free” labels on the package.

If you want to know how all of the plastics in your car measure up in toxicity, check this out!

-High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which effects condiments like ketchup and BBQ sauces, it's in baby foods and pretty much any sweetened non-organic, pre-packaged food, unless otherwise advertised.  Heinz has actually just created a HFCS-free ketchup, yeay Heinz!  Still not organic, but it's a step in the right direction.

-Trash incinerators - Hazardous waste, medical waste, and regular garbage incinerators release 13.1 tons (or about 26,000 pounds) of mercury every year, according to statistics from the EPA. The mercury comes from all of the common household items listed above, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and thermostats, and from automobile scrap.

And remember, it's is not just mercury we have to worry about, there are other dangerous metals out there like aluminum in vaccines, arsenic in the air we breath, cadmium and lead in toys, cars, many plastics and the topic of GMOs requires it's own blog entry.

Please note that this list is not even all-inclusive.


Anonymous said...

Another volumonously educational post. Thank you!

Jessica said...

Voluminously? You are a trip Travis! Thanks again for reading, as always. ((muah))

Janice said...

I agree. Great article, Jessica!

Anonymous said...

Great job Jess! Thanks! Linda

Nichole said...

Amazingly written, and full up nothing but valuable information. Can't wait to pass this one. Thank you for putting it all in one spot so I didnt have to!

In His Grip said...

So, what is the method of cleansing or detoxifying our children of these metals?

Jessica said...

The safest method, in my opinion, and the only method we will ever consider is the Andy Cutler Protocol. If you go into the tab above "Recommended Reading", you will find his books. I highly recommend them!!

Aliki Christou said...

Hi there Jessica,

You're blog is amazing! Your posts are so fascinating and captivating, whilst also being really informative. I was referred to your site via the amazing Raising a Sensitive Child blog.

I am currently putting together a site called Allergy Kinder ( that I'm due to launch in a couple of weeks, and I was wondering if you would like to contribute an article (it can be short, moderate or long). Our categories are Complementary Medicine, Mainstream Medicine, Diet & Nutrition and Spirituality. Check the site out (still getting ready for launch), and it would be wonderful if you could submit something, as you're writing is awesome.

It would be wonderful to hear from you
Aliki Christou
Allergy Kinder

Twwly said...

Can I ask you if Alina did cure your D.Fragilis? I've just read your parasite related blog posts, not sure if I'm over looking the final fecal test results!

Thank you!
Another Mama

Jessica said...

We keep talking about doing another stool test, but haven't done one yet, so I am sorry to report that we don't know the status of the parasite at this stage. =(

Jessica said...

I JUST found your message, I apologize for coming in so late! I would love to contribute, when I have the time between home schooling, cooking, photography, blogging and helping other moms. =)

Please keep in touch and let me know when you have an opportunity. I will go check out the site now. Thanks for thinking of me!


Howie said...

This stuff is amazing/scary/overwhelming. Thanks for all the hard work

Jessica said...

It sure is scary and overwhelming, but knowledge is power and knowing is half the battle!

Thanks for reading!