Lead or Mercury Poisoning

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Symptoms of mercury Poisoning

“In the human body, mercury accumulates in the liver, kidney, brain, and blood. Mercury may cause acute or chronic health effects. Acute exposure (i.e., short term, high dose) is not as common today due to greater precautions and decreased handling. However, severe acute effects may include severe gastrointestinal damage, cardiovascular collapse, or kidney failure, all of which could be fatal. Inhalation of 1-3 mg/m3 for 2-5 hours may cause headaches, salivation, metallic taste in the mouth, chills, cough, fever, tremors, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, fatigue, or lung irritation. Symptoms may be delayed in onset for a number of hours.

Chronic effects include central nervous system effects, kidney damage and birth defects. Genetic damage is also suspected.

Nervous system effects. These are the most critical effects of chronic mercury exposure from adult exposure as they are consistent and pronounced. some elemental mercury is dissolved in the blood and may be transported across the blood/brain barrier, oxidized and retained in brain tissue. Elimination from the brain is slow, resulting in nerve tissue accumulation. Symptoms of chronic mercury exposure on the nervous system include: Increased excitability, mental instability, tendency to weep, fine tremors of the hands and feet, and personality changes. The term "Mad as a Hatter" came from these symptoms which were a result of mercury exposure in workers manufacturing felt hats using a mercury-containing process.

Kidney effects: Kidney damage includes increased protein in the urine and may result in kidney failure at high dose exposure.

Birth defects: Neurologic damage from methyl mercury. The manifestations of mild exposure include delayed developmental milestones, altered muscle tone and tendon reflexes, and depressed intelligence.

Mercury exposure in children can cause a severe form of poisoning termed acrodynia. Acrodynia is evidenced by pain in the extremities, pinkness and peeling of the hands, feet and nose, irritability, sweating, rapid heartbeat and loss of mobility.”[2]


[1] http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/lead/lead.html  Animal Science Department Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

[2] http://www.orcbs.msu.edu/AWARE/pamphlets/hazwaste/mercuryfacts.html  Ingham County Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Committee, Michigan State University Office of Radiation, Chemical & Biological Safety