Though mercury is well known to be a source of poisoning, many people misunderstand the common sources that put them at risk. While mercury is famous for being in thermometers, that is actually a very rare cause of mercury poisoning because mercury is very rarely used in thermometers any more. Instead, mercury is more common in dental implants and fluorescent lamps, and therefore when these break there can be a significant Mercury exposure.
Where mercury is most prevalent is in fish, which in their own diet concentrate Mercury from seawater. Since mercury tends to stay in our system for extended periods, a diet high in fish can cause the accumulation of mercury to levels that have various effects.
Many manufacturing processes can cause mercury pollution in the soil and atmosphere, from coal-burning to gold-mining. Even cement and soda production can contribute to mercury pollution. All of these sources increases our own levels of mercury.
When levels of mercury are high enough, symptoms can include:
Fortunately, mercury toxicity is avoidable by decreasing exposure such as decreasing fish in the diet. If you are unsure whether such measures are worthwhile, you can test your mercury levels, as well as other heavy metals. If your mercury levels are elevated, you can then consider and avoid any exposures you might have so that heavy metals do not have a heavy effect on you.