Sources of Hg include:
- dental amalgams,
- water supplies,
- some hemorrhoidal preparations,
- skin lightening agents,
- instruments (thermometers, electrodes, batteries),
- and combustion of fossil fuels,
- Ayurvedic herbs,
- some fertilizers,
- and the paper/pulp and gold industries.
After dental amalgams are installed or removed a transient (several months) increase in hair Hg is observed. Also, ”baseline” hair Hg levels for individuals with dental amalgams are higher (about 1 to 2 μg/g) than are baseline levels for those without (below 1 μg/g).
Hair mercury (Hg) is an excellent indiator of exposure to methylmercury from fish. Mercury is toxic to humans and animals. Individuals vary greatly in sensitivity and tolerance to Hg burden.
Hg can suppress biological selenium function and may cause or contribute to immune dysregulation in sensitive individuals. Hallmark symptoms of excess Hg include:
- loss of appetite,
- decreased senses of touch, hearing, and vision,
- emotional instability,
- peripheral numbness and tremors,
- poor memory and cognitive dysfunction,
- and neuromuscular disorders.
Hair Hg has been reported to correlate with acute myocardial infarction and on average each 1 μg/g of hair Hg was found to correlate with a 9% increase in AMI risk (Circulation 1995; 91:645-655).
Confirmatory tests for elevated Hg are measurement of whole blood as an indication of recent/ongoing exposure (does not correlate with whole body accumulation) and measurement of urine Hg before and after administration of a dithiol metal binding agent such as DMSA or DMPS (an indication of total body burden).
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