What are the risks of mercury exposure?

Mercury is a neurotoxin, which means that it crosses the blood – brain barrier and can cause damage to brain cells. The liver, kidneys, heart and immune system may also be affected. Mercury toxicity may contribute to birth defects and nerve degeneration.

Mercury is a by-product of burning and processing coal and natural gas. Mercury is present in the air, waterways and oceans.

Is there a link between Mercury and Autism?

In a 2012 (1) study, it was suggested that the greater the perinatal exposure to  to air pollution, the greater the risk of autism. Julie Matthews, a nutritional consultant presents a table comparing the symptoms of mercury poisoning to symptoms of autism(2). The table illustrates the  very many shared characteristics in the areas of movement disorders, sensory abnormalities, speech and language difficulties and cognitive, visual and physical problems.

Ways to reduce mercury toxicity

  • Reduce the amount of tuna, swordfish and shark eaten
  • Remove dental amalgams
  • Avoid skin lightening cream,
  • (Vaccines have been free of mercury since 2002)

  • Be very careful how you remove CFL’s. I have not seen any protocol for removing broken CFL’s on packaging.  However, if you visit http/: -containing lamps  –  the protocol is set out clearly.

As parents and guardians we need to be aware of the potential hazards posed by mercury ingestion.

For those of you who are time poor, the protocol notes that if a CFL breaks, open all  windows and doors in the room for 15 minutes before cleaning the area. Turn off air conditioning and heating to decrease the circulation of vapors. Wear disposable rubber gloves. Scoop up any broken glass using cardboard and place in a glass jar which can be sealed with a metal lid. Use a disposable brush to sweep up the pieces. Use stickytape or a damp cloth to wipe up any residue. If the break rests on carpet use stickytape as above. Dispose of the dustbag if you vacuum up the broken particles. Dispose of all the used cleaning products in a sealed bag.. Local councils have different regulations for collection so please check your area for the acceptable disposal method.

20% of released mercury vapour from a CFL breakage in an unventilated room would release 10x the recommended level for children(3)

Visit your Health Professional should you require chelation therapy.

As parents and guardians  we need to be aware of the potential hazards posed by mercury ingestion.

1. Weisskopf,M., et al “Perinatal air pollution exposure and autism with new results in the Nurse’s Health Study” International Society for Autism ResearchMay 2013

2. Mathews,J., Nourishing Hope for Autism 2008 Healthful Living Media USA.

3. Johnson,N. Manchester,S. Love,S. Mercury Vapour Release from broken Compact Fluroescent Lamps and insitu capture by new nanomaterial sorbents. Environ.Sci.Technol. 2008 42(15) 5772-5778


Liz Wakefield

Liz Wakefield

Liz has been a health practitioner for over 25 years. Having experienced post-natal depression after the birth of her first child and breastfeeding two children for a total of five-and-a-half years, she feels confident in her ability to educate and support young families to feel positive in their capacity to nurture their infants and provide a healthy and balanced environment in which they all can thrive.

Liz offers workshops that provide a fun, caring and reassuring space to explore wholefood cooking, practise infant massage (to improve sleep patterns and digestive issues) and learn about household toxins and how to reduce our toxic load.

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