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Working with the effects of chemical stress on the nervous system, it is important we become aware substances in our environment which adversely affect children from conception and throughout childhood. One such neurotoxin is mercury and depending on the exposure levels, mercury can cause numbness, in fingers and toes, impairment of motor coordination and speech, drowsiness, memory problems and tremors.(1)
Mercury is a toxic chemical that can cause permanent brain and nervous system damage to the developing bodies of unborn babies and young children.(2) Discharge from aging power plants, waste incinerators and coal burning plants contaminate the air and water in our environment. Disposing of fluorescent tubes, batteries, electrical thermostats and switches all contribute to environmental mercury toxicity. Even a few drops from a broken thermometer can cause health hazards in the home "because mercury evaporates into the air over time and will be inhaled" (3)
Mercury passes through the placenta and can accumulate in the unborn child and then in the mother.(4) In Japan during the 50's, a large number of infants were born with brain damage to women who had consumed mercury contaminated fish. Mercury levels in consumed fish is a growing concern today. Federal Health warnings identify 1,660 water bodies as too contaminated with mercury to be fished for food. The coalition "Health Care Without Harm" analyzed 27 samples of major brands of tuna, fish sticks and shrimp from grocery stores in San Francisco, Chicago and Washington. Every sample contained mercury, tuna having the most. Based on the Environmental Agency standards, a young child is at risk of exposure by eating more than one sandwich of chunk light tuna each week. A pregnant mother eating 1/2 can each day would be exposing her unborn baby to unsafe doses.(5)
Other avoidable causes of mercury toxicity for children are amalgam dental fillings. These are the silver-like fillings most commonly used by dentists. In a report released by the US Department of Health & Human Services, the measurement of daily intake of mercury ranged 100-500 times more than their own minimum risk levels. (6) According to the World Health Organization, the general sources of mercury in the body are: breathed air, fish, non-fish foods , drinking water, with mercury vapor from dental amalgams being 3-17 micrograms, a bigger source than all the other sources put together. Studies have found that mercury vapor is continuously released from amalgam fillings and is increased after chewing and tooth brushing. Continuous chewing for 10 -30 minutes results in a sustained elevation of mercury levels which can run as high as 100 micrograms.(7)
The book "Mercury Poisoning from Dental Amalgam- a Hazard to Human Brain" by Patrick Stortebecker, MD., PhD and "It's All In your Head- the Relationship Between Amalgam Fillings and Illness" by Dr. Hal Huggins are two rich sources of information and research on this subject. Both thoroughly examine nervous system disorders due to mercury toxicity from amalgam fillings.