Exposure to Mercury: A Major Public Health Concern

Table of content:

  • Sources of exposure to mercury
  • Health Effects
  • WHO recommendations
  • Elimination of mercury-related diseases requires strategic action to

Mercury is highly toxic to human health, posing a particular threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life. It occurs naturally and exists in various forms: elemental (or metallic); inorganic (e.g. mercuric chloride); and organic (e.g., methyl- and ethylmercury). These forms all have different toxicities and implications for health and for measures to prevent exposure.1 Elemental mercury is a liquid that vaporizes readily. It can stay for up to a year in the atmosphere, where it can be transported and deposited globally. It ultimately settles in the sediment of lakes, rivers or bays where it is transformed into methylmercury, absorbed by phytoplankton, ingested by zooplankton and fish, and accumulates especially in long-lived predatory species, such as shark and swordfish