High Mercury Content
The Grassy Narrows & Islington Bands Mercury Disability Board

Diagnosis

There are scientific tests used to find out if people show signs of some form of mercury poisoning.

The scientific method for finding out about human exposure to natural (mercury) and synthetic (man made) chemicals is based on sampling and analysis of a person’s tissues and fluids. Substances studied include blood, urine, breast milk, expelled air, as well as hair, fat, and bone.

The kidneys generally contain the highest amounts of methylmercury in humans. High levels may lead to kidney damage and failure. Testing urine levels is important in finding out about negative effects on our nervous system; persons affected may show signs of irritation, shaking (tremor), kidney damage, and other symptoms known by scientists to be consistent with mercury poisoning. Exposure to methylmercury is often measured and monitored by testing blood samples. Scientists have found a close link between the eating of an unsafe amount of contaminated fish and mercury levels in blood.

The relationship between methylmercury exposure, health effects and hair has been well established. Methylmercury poisoning occurs mostly in food. This compound is absorbed by a person’s blood. Eventually it becomes a part of a person’s hair and is a good indicator of the consumption of this contaminated food. It is said to be particularly useful in gauging consumption of contaminated fish by pregnant mothers.