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You've probably heard about Methylmercury, or "organic" mercury. It's a poisonous substance that can deteriorate the nervous system. Its toxicity can be caused by ingesting it in high doses. Fortunately, there are alternatives. You can find a nontoxic version of the substance by visiting a local health store.
Mercury occurs naturally in the environment in its various forms, including its elemental form and various inorganic mercury compounds. While organic mercury compounds are not covered in this document, elemental mercury is the most prevalent form released into the atmosphere. Exposure to elemental mercury occurs primarily through inhalation of mercury vapours. The average atmospheric mercury concentration is around 3-6 times higher than that of pre-industrial ambient air.
The extent to which inorganic mercury is transported in the body may depend on its solubility and its ease of dissociation in the lumen. Mercuric forms of mercury are more readily absorbed than inorganic mercury, possibly because they have less solubility.
Elemental mercury is a poison that can be harmful even at low concentrations. It can cause skin irritation, kidney failure, and cognitive impairment. It can travel a long way in the environment before it breaks down, so it's important to make sure that industrial facilities are properly monitored to reduce exposure. In one study, rats were exposed to elements of mercury at vapour concentrations up to 28.8 mg/m3.
Elemental mercury is a carcinogen, and the only safe level is 20 ug/m3. However, even at this concentration, elemental mercury can cause nephrotoxicity and can affect the central nervous system. Exposure to elemental mercury should only be undertaken in very small doses and should not exceed 0.23% of the body's weight.
Methylmercury has been linked to neurological disorders in humans. Long-term exposure to high levels of methylmercury can cause symptoms such as decreased vision and hearing, tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes, lack of coordination, and muscle weakness. This chemical is especially harmful to children, whose nervous systems are still developing. Furthermore, methylmercury can be passed through breast milk to a nursing infant.
Studies have shown that exposure to methyl mercury during pregnancy can result in higher levels of mercury in the fetus' brain. This is because methylmercury easily crosses cell membranes and crosses the placenta. Inorganic mercury, however, is less likely to cross the placenta. Once the baby is born, the mercury in her blood moves to her hair follicle, where it is deposited. The concentration of mercury in her hair is proportional to her blood mercury level.
Methylmercury is a carcinogen found in agricultural waste and can cause a number of different medical problems, including neurological damage. Exposure to methylmercury over a long period of time can cause irreversible damage to neuronal tissue, and chelators do not seem to reduce the damage.
In humans, methylmercury exposure causes neuronal injury mainly in the brain. It affects the cerebral cortex and the granule cells in the cerebellum. This type of exposure may cause a wide range of neurological deficits, and detailed clinical assessments are necessary to accurately identify any problems. Laboratory tests may not be helpful as they do not assess neuronal damage caused by exposure to methylmercury in high doses.
Methylmercury poisoning is usually a result of ingestion, but there are other ways it can be absorbed. Inhalation and dermal exposures are also common sources. Although symptoms of toxicity may take weeks or months to manifest, they typically involve the central nervous system. They may include paresthesias, headaches, ataxia, and visual field constriction. In severe cases, it can cause blindness.
Other forms of mercury
Other forms of mercury are released into the atmosphere as a result of various human activities. They include the burning of fossil fuels, mining, and smelting. Mercury is also released from municipal solid waste, industrial wastewater, and fertilizers. Mercury in the atmosphere is not a health risk at low levels. However, levels at hazardous waste sites can be as high as 200,000 times higher than natural levels.
Other forms of mercury are not as toxic as metallic mercury. However, exposure to them can still affect the central nervous system. When ingested in large amounts, they are known to damage the gastrointestinal tract and cause kidney failure. However, unlike metallic mercury, these other forms of mercury are not found naturally in the environment.
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