Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Bright Side Of Mercury

Today's Spokesman has an article about a study that concludes mercury does not contribute to heart disease. Since the Review didn't include any links to the study--hint, hint--I had to look for it myself. I found a free abstract on the New England Journal of Medicine site. They studied the participants of two studies and concluded:

We found no evidence of any clinically relevant adverse effects of mercury exposure on coronary heart disease, stroke, or total cardiovascular disease in U.S. adults at the exposure levels seen in this study.

Great news, right? But when you look up mercury on the EPA site...

For fetuses, infants, and children, the primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development. Methylmercury exposure in the womb, which can result from a mother's consumption of fish and shellfish that contain methylmercury, can adversely affect a baby's growing brain and nervous system. Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to methylmercury in the womb.

...and CDC site...

The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Methylmercury and metallic mercury vapors are more harmful than other forms, because more mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.

Short-term exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapors may cause effects including lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes, and eye irritation.

...there's no mention of of heart disease. Isn't it wonderful to now know that it has now been ruled out? It almost makes the mercury coming from coal-fired power plants seem like not a bad thing any more.

The next study we'll hear about will conclude that people who suffer a stab wound to the hand are less likely to die than those who suffer a stab wound to an internal organ.

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