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Mercury and Your Body

Check out how mercury can affect the human body. Click on the different parts of the body to see what can happen when people are poisoned by mercury. How serious these health effects are may vary depending on how much mercury gets into your body — and how long you breathe it in.

Brain & Nervous
System

Mercury may cause damage to the nervous system, especially the brain. Brain damage from mercury poisoning can cause people to have:

Trouble remembering things
Difficulty sleeping
Changes in mood, like feeling cranky, nervous, tired, or shy
Numbness in the hands and feet
Trembling (shaking)
Problems with muscle coordination (tripping, dropping things, falling down)

Ears

Trouble hearing

Eyes

Red eyes

Mouth

Tasting metal
Swollen gums
Drooling

Head

Headache

Throat

Sore throat

Heart

High blood pressure
Fast heart rate

Lungs

Cough
Pain when breathing
Feeling out of breath
Damage to the lungs

Stomach & Intestines

Feeling sick to your stomach
Nausea
Diarrhea
Not feeling hungry

Kidneys

Damage to the kidneys
Damage to the kidneys

Skin

Red, itchy rashes
Peeling hands and feet

Reproductive System

Mercury poisoning is especially dangerous for an unborn baby (fetus)

Body

Fever
Feeling tired
Muscle aches
Key:
  •   Health effect caused by breathing in high levels of mercury vapors (fumes) over a short period of time
  •   Health effect caused by breathing in lower levels of mercury vapors over a long period of time
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