Mercury in the glass thermometer that we use for checking body temperature is most lethal and can pose serious health problems if accidentally spilt.//
Mercury is a neurotoxin, meaning it attacks the nervous system and brain. In small children, mercury poisoning has been linked to birth defects, learning disabilities, walking and talking delays and memory or attention problems.
In adults, mercury poisoning leads to tremors, headaches, blurred vision, memory or concentration loss, hand and feet numbness, poor coordination, hair loss and nausea.
In extreme cases, mercury poisoning can lead to coma and death. However, the symptoms of mercury poisoning can be reversed in adults. It takes about six months to a year for the body to naturally remove mercury once the exposure stops.
Mercury spilling on the ground due to accidental breakage of thermometers is fairly common in big hospitals, and sometimes in homes too, but this seemingly innocuous happening can expose humans to severe poisoning effects of the silvery liquid-like metal.
Mercury readily turns into vapour at room temperature and when inhaled gets absorbed into the bloodstream and attacks the nervous system. Even physical contact with the liquid, which is easily absorbed through the skin, is dangerous as some of it passes through the skin into the bloodstream, leading to tremors, nausea and blurred vision.
Given its risks, the West has stopped the use of mercury in thermometers, but they continue to be commonly used in India. There is also no awareness about the dangers posed by mercury poisoning or the need for careful handling of thermometers.
"India is the second largest user of mercury - we import 200 tonnes every year. It is imported from many parts of the world including Europe. India doesn't mine it. Mercury escapes into the air and water, and from water into fish. We don't have any regulation even on trade in mercury. It iPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
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