Most toxicologists will tell you mercury is one of the most poisonous substance on earth. When people are exposed to it, it can damage their DNA, as well as endocrine, autoimmune, and immune systems. There are also increasingly strong connections between mercury and Amyorophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Despite these serious medical conditions, mercury is found in numerous everyday products. It can also be found in homes, schools, stores, businesses, laboratories, offices, and sometimes even your mouth. Here’s a list of where can you find mercury, although it’s not totally comprehensive.
- Amalgam Dental Fillings
- Button-Cell Batteries
- Commercial and Industrial Heating and Cooling Equipment
- Flame Sensors
- Flu Vaccines
- Fluorescent Lamps and the New Coiled or Twisty Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)
- High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps
- Other products: jewelry, novelty items, sneakers, and toys
- Personal Care Products: Contact lens solution, eye makeup, makeup removers, nasal sprays, and skin lightening products, etc.
- Silent Wall Switches
Amalgam dental fillings are a big problem because the mercury is in your mouth. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock in his book Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life, mercury fillings need to be removed properly. He suggests you contact the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) to find a trained dentist in your area that can correctly remove them. If you want to replace them, you need to know that the most popular replacement is porcelain, but it contains a chemical called Bisphenol A, and there are questions about it’s safety. Therefore, according to the National Resources Defense Council, gold fillings may be the best alternative.
To avoid mercury in personal care products you need to look for mercury under a variety of names. Here’s the list: Thiomersal, thimerosol, mercurorchrome, mercurothiolate, ethyl (2-mercaptobenzoato-S) mercury sodium salt, thimerosalan, ethylmercury, sodium ethylmercurithiosalicylate, and ethyl mercury sodium salt. If a product contains any of these names, it means it contains some form of mercury, so don’t buy the product.
Mercury is also in flu vaccines. It use to be in many childhood vaccines but it was removed in the late 1990s from most vaccines other than diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, which continue to contain trace residues. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the risk of a flu vaccine outweighs possible mercury toxicity. Blaylock and numerous other informed critics argue against such vaccines based on the medical conditions I described above. However, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry argues for vaccines and claims vaccines are safe because few if any people have side effects.
In relation to jewelry (usually from Mexico), novelty items, and toys (primarily vintage ones), many states have instituted laws against certain mercury products, but the limitations and restrictions may be different for each state. NEWMOA offers more detailed information about mercury in jewelry, novelty items, sneakers, and toys.
For many of these products, the biggest problem occurs when it’s time to dipose of them or they accidentally break. To dispose of mercury products properly visit Earth 911, and enter mercury and your zip code. A list will appear with convenient disposal sites that accept mercury products. Also, don’t place CFLs, light up sneakers, thermostats, or old thermometers in your regular garbage or recycling bins. Try to return them to their original packaging, and then secure them so they won’t break open. If you can’t find a proper dispose site at Earth 911, check with your waste management company as to where to go to properly dispose of them. Home Depot also launched a CFL recycling campaign in July 2008, so, you can also take non-working, UNBROKEN CFLs to any Home Depot customer service counter where they will properly dispose of them for you. If you accidentally have a mercury spill the Washington State Department of Health provides information for both small and large spills and how to handle them.