Quicksilver

You come home from work one day and you see your son playing in the yard. You walk up to greet him and see a broken thermometer in his hands. He has mercury on his hands. This is one of a parent’s worst nightmares. Mercury or “quicksilver” is the 80th element on the periodic table. It is the only metal that stays at a liquid at room temperature. It is also very deadly if ingested. If a large amount of it is inserted in the body mercury will cause nervous system shutdown and death. In smaller amounts it can cause mercury poisoning. You will be surprised to find out what one of the most common ways to ingest mercury is. Eating fish is one of the most common ways!

I read an article that said that it was more dangerous to let your child eat tuna fish every night than to let them play with the mercury from a thermometer. The reason for this is that many fish have high mercury levels. Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that come from old rocks. The main way that it gets into the water is from coal plants. What happens is that mercury is inside of the coal and when the coal is burned of the mercury is released into the air in gas form. Then the mercury rains down in rain. Then a little tiny microbe takes in a little of it. then a fish comes and eats a bunch of microbes, then a bigger fish eats the little fish. This goes on until a person eats a fish. When a person eats a fish the impacts can be bad. The FDA has put a limit on the fish a pregnant woman can eat because  if they eat to many their baby can get sick.

To rap this all up there is a solution. There is a mechanism that can reduce the mercury levels at a coal plant but very few coal plants have installed them. This is just another example of people showing no regard for the world and feeling the repercussions which in this case is mercury in our water, our fish, and our bodies.

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12 responses to “Quicksilver”

  1. carolinem0017 says :

    Wow, that is really scary. Mercury is an externality that I would have never thought of. This means that the cost of mercury (possibly death) is not reflected in the price of fish. In fact fish such as tuna is still very expensive. I am surprised that tuna fish is safe to eat considering that it has mercury in it. Do you know how much mercury is in the fish we eat (tuna and other fish)? Is it really safe to eat? I noticed in your post how you said “It was more dangerous to let your child eat tuna fish every night than to let them play with the mercury from a thermometer,” meaning that tuna fish does have high levels of mercury.

    • brannona0017 says :

      I agree. The levels of mercury that are in everyday things like fish is startling. To answer your furst question I don’t know how much mercury is in every fish but I know that it is not harmful unless you were to eat it every night. It is also impacts small children and pregnant women more than other people, so much that the FDA has put a suggested limit on how much fish a pregnant woman can eat woman.

  2. davidc0017 says :

    I’ve never actually heard this before, so that’s great that you informed us about Mercury. How much does eating the total amount of fish that you eat in your lifetime actually influence you? This is pretty scary not because of the large amounts of mercury, but small amounts of this substance leading to mercury poisoning. I don’t plan on injecting a bunch of mercury in me anytime soon. Great Post.

    • brannona0017 says :

      I glad that my post is informing of this problem because it’s kind of crazy. The only way that the mercury can be harmful is if you ingest a bunch of it in a short amount of time such as a week. So you should be fine unless you eat tuna every day for a week. Thank you for the comment.

  3. michaelm0017 says :

    I find this post very interesting. Especially because you and I are partens for the project and this is our topic. Today we had the great interview with Ms. Horton. She told us that most cases of terminal mercury poisoning is caused by exposer to the type of mercury found in thermometers. There are not nearly as many death cases involving methylmercury which is the type of mercury found in fish. So saying that eating tuna will kill you is a vary extreme argument. Additionally, mercury has different effects on different people, for example Mr. Meyer could be exposed to a certain amount of mercury and have no side effects, while a baby exposed to the same amount could have serious side effects. This is because the younger people are still forming their brain and exposure can effect their brain growth. Overall, awesome post!

    • brannona0017 says :

      Thanks Michael. I know the wording is a little weir in spots but I do not mean that eating one can of tuna fish will kill you. The people most affected are pregnant women and small children.

  4. alliej0017 says :

    I really liked your post. It made me wonder what are some other ways that mercury or other poisons such as lead can get into our systems. That might be fun to look into. I was also thinking that since a big use of mercury is in thermometers, we could try to find a suitable alternative. Sure, ingesting the amount of mercury in a thermometer isn’t lethal, but for small children it is certainly harmful.

    • brannona0017 says :

      Thanks for the feedback. I too wonder what poisons could be finding their way into our bodies and their impacts. My group is looking into that topic for our project and I and interested to see what we will find out.

  5. adamw0017 says :

    WOW! I know that I have eaten a lot of fish in my lifetime, but I never thought that there could be anything bad inside of the fish. If there is really more danger in eating fish every night than playing with mercury from thermometers, I will think twice before I eat fish. Mercury seems like a dangerous thing and I hope that people will start to do anything about it.

    • brannona0017 says :

      I am with you adam. It is hard to belive that eating fish every night is that harmful, but it is. What really worries me are the impacts on newborns. I think that people like you and me will be fine for now though but this needs to be addressed.

  6. carolelizabethk0017 says :

    This was a really good informative post! I would change the last paragraph to elaborate more on the solution because I think that is really important because everyone always wants to know that there is a solution to an issue. I liked all the information about the metal and mercury and where it all comes from. Great job!

    • brannona0017 says :

      Thanks, like you said there is a solution. The solution is a simple peace of machinery that can filter out the mercury but the coal companies just don’t want to pay for it.

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