Erethism; Mad hatter syndrome; Mercury toxicity
Direct or indirect contact with inorganic or organic forms of mercury, resulting in a deleterious alteration of body structure and/or function, including illness or death.
Exposure to elemental, organic (especially methylmercury), or salt forms of mercury is noted to be neurotoxic to humans. Any form of mercury coming into contact with the central nervous system tissue leads to toxic effects. This is accomplished most easily by elemental mercury vapor that is inhaled (usually in industrial or mining settings) or methylmercury ingestion (often via eating contaminated seafood).
As with most toxic substances, fetuses, infants, and young children are notoriously more vulnerable to mercury poisoning than adults, due to their immature bodily defenses and mercury’s tendency to interfere with nervous system development. In the 1950s in Minamata, Japan, pregnant women who were exposed to significant levels of...
References and Readings
- Niesink, R., Jaspers, R., Kornet, L., van Ree, J., & Tilson, H. (1999). Introduction to neurobehavioral toxicology: Food and environment. New York: CRC Press.Google Scholar