Our Mercurial World

Our Mercurial World

We live in a mercurial world, and that’s not a good thing. Although mercury (Hg) is a naturally occurring element—found in the air, water, and soil—exposure to it, even in small amounts, causes serious health problems for adults and children. Mercury has toxic effects on the nervous, digestive, and immune systems as well as on the lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes. It is a threat to the healthy development of a fetus and young child.

Until scientists and physicians recognized mercury as detrimental to health, it had been used in medicines and industrial applications. In the 1800s, the phrase “mad as a hatter” originated from the mental health changes observed in hatters who used mercury to process felt for headwear. Today, we are much more informed about the risks of exposure to mercury and its detrimental effects on health. Although many other metals can be problematic, the World Health Organization considers mercury one of the top 10 chemicals that are a major public health concern.

Mercury exists in several forms, including liquid metal (quicksilver), vapor, and in organic and inorganic compounds. It is released from the Earth’s crust through volcanic activity and through coal-burning and industrial processes. 

Problems that arise from mercury exposure stem from a combination of factors: amount/dose, method of exposure (ingestion, inhalation, skin contact), and length of exposure. We are all exposed to low levels of mercury to some degree. Exposure can occur through contaminated drinking water; foods grown in contaminated soil; a diet high in mercury-laden fish/shellfish; medical procedures (dental, vaccination); and through accidental/occupational exposure to industrial waste.

6 Ways to Minimize Mercury Exposure

1. Read labels for mercury content. Keep thermometers, fluorescent bulbs, and mercury-containing products out of reach of children.

2.  Do not handle a leaky battery with bare hands. Wear gloves.

3. Contact your local environmental protection office for instructions on safe disposal of products containing mercury and other heavy metals.

4. Talk with your dentist about alternatives to amalgam fillings, or talk with a trained dentist in proper amalgam removal utilizing the vacuum and dental dam extraction.

5. To avoid ingesting toxic levels of methylmercury from seafood, do not eat large to medium fish, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish.

6. When considering vaccines for yourself or a child (including the flu vaccine), ask the physician about mercury content. (Most vaccines are no longer using the mercury-containing component thimerosal.)


EMedicine Health. “Mercury Poisoning.” Reviewed June 6, 2014.   http://www.emedicinehealth.com/mercury_poisoning/article_em.htm

González-Estecha, M., A. Bodas-Pinedo, MÁ Rubio-Herrera, et al. “The Effects of Methylmercury on Health in Children and Adults; National and International Studies.” Abstract. Nutricion Hospitalaria 30, no. 5 (November 1, 2014): 989-1007. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25365002

Raimann, X., L. Rodríguez, P. Chávez, and C. Torrejón. “Mercury in Fish and Its Importance in Health.” Abstract. Revista Médica de Chile 142, no. 9 (September 2014). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25517058

World Health Organization. “Mercury and Health.” Updated September 2013. www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs361/en/

Chia Pudding Recipe

Dr. Hayman’s favorite breakfast meal

Simplicity is the key when you have a two-and-a-half year old, a husband, and a puppy at home.  One of my favorite, simple breakfast meals is chia seed pudding.  It is quite easy and really isn’t even a recipe, it’s more like a cereal.  Chia seeds are wonderful little things that are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber all rolled into one.  This morning pudding can be enjoyed any time of the day, but breakfast is usually when we have it.

Chia Pudding – 1 serving

  • 3 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2/3 cup of almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp of Grade B Maple Syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • Handful of blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries
  • Optional:  goji berries, pumpkin seeds, raisins, etc…

Mix the milk, chia seeds, syrup, and salt in a bowl and let it set in the refrigerator for 45 minutes (can be made the night before).  While the milk is absorbing into the chia seeds, stir twice to break apart the clumps that may occur.  You may want to add more or less milk depending on the consistency you desire.  After 45 minutes, stir and add your berries.  Enjoy!