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News Releases

News Releases from Region 06

EPA reminds citizens to take additional steps if handling mercury; children are particularly sensitive

Contact Information: 
Joe Hubbard or Jennah Durant, or 214 665-2200

DALLAS (Oct. 31, 2019) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking additional steps, as we wrap-up Children’s Health Month, to remind citizens to use care if exposed to mercury. Mercury exists in various forms, and people are exposed in different ways. The most common method of exposure is by eating fish containing methylmercury. Other exposures may result from children mishandling or improper cleanup after a metallic mercury spill. Additionally, metallic mercury spills inside schools and houses, often unreported, can release vapors into the air for weeks, even years. Mercury can affect the nervous systems of developing children and youth.

“Mercury continues to be a substantial hazard for children,” said Stephen W. Borron, M.D., Division Chief in Medical Toxicology, Texas Tech University Health Science Center El Paso. “Children continue to come across industrial sources of elemental mercury resulting in school or home contamination. It is imperative to warn children to avoid any contact with elemental mercury.”

EPA Region 6 office advises everyone to minimize mercury exposure by:

  • Eat fish and shellfish low in mercury such as canned light tuna, salmon and catfish
  • Limit consumption of fish that typically have higher levels of mercury such as king mackerel
  • Buy and use products that are mercury-free
  • Using care when handling containers and/or products that contain mercury
  • Contact your health care provider or the poison control center ((800) 222-1222) if you are potentially exposed

Methylmercury, a highly toxic organic compound, is the form of mercury people in the U.S. encounter most frequently. Almost all people in the world have at least trace amounts of methylmercury in their bodies, reflecting its prevalence in the environment. However, most people have mercury levels in their bodies below the level associated with possible health effects.

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