Mercury is a metal that is found in nature. It is released into the environment when coal is burned, by some industries, and from past use in gold mines. Mercury builds up in certain types of fish.
Mercury is found in:
- Certain types of fish and seafood. This is the most common source of exposure to mercury.
- Some imported face creams used for skin lightening, anti-aging, or acne.
- Some herbal medicines and other traditional remedies, especially from China and India.
- Silver-colored dental fillings.
- Glass thermometers, older barometers, and blood pressure gauges.
- Fluorescent lights, including compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.
Possible health concerns of mercury:
- Can affect brain development and cause learning and behavior problems in infants and children who were exposed in the womb.
- Can harm the nervous system and kidneys.
- May affect the heart.
- May increase cancer risk.
Possible ways to reduce exposure to mercury:
- Choose fish that are lower in mercury, such as salmon, tilapia, trout, canned light tuna, sardines, anchovies, and oysters.
- Avoid fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, orange roughy, bluefin and bigeye tuna, tilefish, king mackerel, and marlin.
- Do not use imported face creams for skin lightening, anti-aging, or acne unless you are certain that they do not contain mercury.
- Properly recycle CFL bulbs (see below).
- Properly clean up broken thermometers, CFL bulbs, and other items containing mercury (see below). Do not let children play with silver liquid from items like mercury thermometers.