Mercury is often abbreviated Hg. It may be breathed in, ingested or absorbed through the skin and is toxic. As a vapor, mercury is odorless.
Urinary mercury testing is considered a very accurate way to assess whether or not you have been exposed to the inorganic form of the heavy metal. There is also an organic form of mercury, which can become toxic in the body but this form of mercury is best detected in a blood test sample.
A urine mercury test measures mercury excretion from the body over 24 hours, both before and after a “provocation” or “detox” compound is ingested. A provocation compound increases the excretion of a substance such as toxic metals. EDTA, DMSA, and DMPS are examples of provocation compounds.
Taking the urine mercury test without a provocation compound reveals mercury in the urine whether or not there are high levels of mercury in the body. When the provocation compound is ingested, mercury levels increase in the urine. Urinary mercury has been found to be an accurate determination of the amount of the heavy metal in the body.
Normal Ranges for Mercury in ng/ml:
Adults: <20 ng/ml
Children: No reference range established.
Critical Range: >20 ng/ml
Low mercury levels are not a health issue.
High levels of mercury cause damage in the body. Specifically, the kidney, GI tract, and the brain and nervous system are targeted. The type of symptoms that occur when mercury toxicity occurs include:
• 'mouth on fire' sensation
• shortness of breath
• tight feeling in the chest
• loss of concentration
• inability to think and make decisions
• impaired speaking
• stomach and GI upsets
• lung problems
If a baby in a mother’s womb is exposed to mercury, it can develop permanent damage to its internal organs and thus not develop properly.
Some specific causes of high urinary mercury might be:
- Consumption of high mercury fish, including tuna, shark, king mackerel, sea bass, orange roughy, marlin, and shark
- Consumption of alternative health remedies that are contaminated with high levels of mercury
- Someone who has leaking silver amalgam fillings in their teeth
- Someone who has had silver amalgam fillings removed but the dentist did not use a rubber dam and oxygen mask to protect the patient from inhaling in the mercury vapors
- Someone who drinks water from a water body contaminated with mercury
- A child who has played with broken thermometers
- Someone who has leaky dental fillings and chews a lot of gum This increases the amount that is released from the teeth.
- Use of flu/other vaccinations, which contain thimerosal or other mercury compounds
- Working in an industry that still uses mercury, such as the manufacturing of batteries, the coal industry, and the mercury mining industry.
- Using skin-lightening creams or some mercury-containing medicines
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