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Mercury Poisoning from thermometers

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May 31, 2022

Q. I was exposed to liquid mercury when I was a young teenager. I'm now 65 yrs old, is it still a danger to my body?

Kelvin S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- WHITESTONE new york

May 2022

A. Hi Kelvin. As you see from the postings, we're not doctors or poison control specialists ... just people relating their experiences. My feeling is that any mercury you were exposed to 50+ years ago is greatly reduced by now. Plus it's already had 50 years to do whatever damage it was going to do.

Personally I would not spend any of my twilight time worrying about a chemical exposure from 50 years ago just because you happen to know about it; you've probably been exposed to many other toxins more recently without even being aware of it :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

↓ Closely related postings, oldest first ↓


Q. My old school buddy was visiting over the Labor Day weekend and reminded me of this one kid in our class who stole a small vial of silver Mercury from "somewhere". It was about the size of a small marble, once out of the vial. We remembered him playing it with it on his desk, and scooting it around with his fingers and a pencil. Now that we know just how damn dangerous it is, what could/would have been the prognosis for this kid and anyone who sat at that desk afterwards? This was 35 years ago, so I'm sure that desk is long gone by now and no longer poses a danger.

Guido Catalina
Guido Catalina(I'm the tall guy in the bandana)
Soup Kitchen Graphics - Cleveland, Ohio, USA


A. Hi Guido. Thanks for pointing out that you're wearing a bandana; considering that the Mad Hatter was very short and that mercury stunts growth, I presumed at first that you were the short guy with the eye patch :-)

We had a drug store in the neighborhood, so I certainly played with the mercury from broken thermometers any number of times as a kid, and knew few boys who didn't. I wouldn't worry about it at this point if I were you.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Ted,

Thank you so much for the Load Off My Mind! I had forgotten about it for 35 years. Then, ya know how you kinda start to wonder about things. Much obliged for your time and input!

Guido Catalina
Soup Kitchen Graphics - Cleveland, Ohio, USA


thumbs up signWell, one of the first symptoms of mercury poisoning is "memory loss"....

George Brackett III
- Utica, New York


Q. You previously wrote to a man who knew a kid years ago that played with stolen liquid mercury, and said that it was no big deal. I myself played with liquid mercury for months. I played with it, put it in my mouth for days and days at a time. I thought it was neat. I found it out behind an old drug store when I was around 10 years old. Shortly after I became sick, and can honestly say I am still sick. I have been tested for everything under the sun. Nothing seems to help. My symptoms vary from chronic UTI, kidney problems, severe fatigue (for many years), pneumonia (several times hospitalized), athsma, sisusitus, anger fits, mood swings, severe deppression, splits in my tongue, candisiasis, and on and on and on. I have been tested several times for Lupus. My normal body temp is never higher than 96.8, unless I am running a fever, which is rare even with all the infections. My urine always tests positive for high amounts of blood. Severe pains in joints and bones, but it moves around. One month its my hands, the next maybe my back, or maybe hips. It moves around. I also have bad cramps in my legs, as well as muscle spasms in my back and side. Could this be from the Mercury? I am just so tired of being sick. I have stumped all of my doctors for over 20 years. Most just give up and think that its all in my head. I can assure you, I am in pain, tired. and feel like I am going crazy because of all of this. Please help if you can.


Laura D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Smithfield, North Carolina


A. Now wait a MINute, Laura! I most certainly DID NOT say that mercury poisoning was no big deal!! Mercury poisoning is very real and very dangerous. Rather, I said to not worry about trying to track down people who may have sat at or near a particular desk upon which a small marble of mercury rolled 35 years ago. The fact that you, like him, like me, and like so many other kids, found it lying around behind a drug store, and played with it, reinforces my point.

Mercury is gradually being removed from the environment because it is dangerous. I have no doubt that you could have acquired mercury poisoning if you had mercury in your mouth for extended periods, but I have no qualifications to say that it has anything to do with your problems either. If your doctor is not familiar with it, almost surely your local poison control center will be. Sorry, I have no idea what the treatment would be; that's something for someone with medical training to address. Good luck!

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. You can learn more about the health hazards of mercury by reading a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Some are available on-line for free.
The damage toxic chemicals can do to you also depends on how much exposure one has. A person who touched it once will be at much less risk than someone who puts it in their mouth for days!

tim neveau
Tim Neveau
Rochester Hills, Michigan


Q. I heard that the only way to remove heavy metals from your body is by eating garlic. The heavy metal will coagulate on the garlic and you can pass it through your body. I'm not a doctor and I don't know how long you should eat garlic but try a clove a day. What do you have to lose by trying it. You will start to smell like garlic after a while but on the positive side, you will be immune to mosquito bites.

- San Deigo, California, USA


A. Actually, smelling like garlic is a definite minus for that method. Another plus is that it keeps vampires away. I don't think eating garlic imparts immunity to insect bites, and I never heard about the heavy metal removal theory. Complexing agents have been used for severe heavy metal poisoning, under the care of a physician.

tom pullizzi animated    tomPullizziSignature
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania


A. Standard medical procedure for chronic mercury poisoning is chelation therapy. This uses chemicals that bind to the toxin and cause it to be excreted from the body. Almost certainly you were poisoned by mercury chloride from the reaction of swallowed metallic mercury and your stomach's hydrochloric acid. See a doctor.

Mark Thompson
- Honey Brook, Pennsylvania, USA


A. Regarding mercury exposure, I have heard it both ways. A doctor warned me as a junior high science student that if I broke a thermometer in a room that someone else had to work in, that the person with constant exposure would eventually lose all their teeth and have other problems.

Then my dentist put in what seems like 1/2 pound of mercury, in the assorted amalgams that we know as fillings, of which I had literally dozens. Despite a certain presence of people who swear that their problems went away when all of their amalgam fillings were removed, the vast majority of people with them have no problems.

In terms of immediate toxicity, mercury metal won't knock you to the floor, but it's bad to accumulate and the MSDS's recommend avoiding direct contact. The various organic compounds with mercury are much more toxic in the short term, for instance 1 mg / meter cubed of air exposure for three months has been found to be fatal to humans. There are lots of data out there, I would recommend researching it starting with the Web site at: Center for Disease Control

However mercury vapor in general is harmful to inhale as well. The same site lists various body systems that are harmed by mercury and/or methyl mercury poisoning- Target Organs: Eyes, skin, central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, kidneys.... It is not good.

There was a documented situation of a suicidal lab worker who injected herself with literally grams of liquid mercury, who did not die. I believe that I saw a reference in some health physics or perhaps a radiography journal, because she had the most amazing x-rays - enough of the metal remained in her body that the much higher x-ray density of the metal made structures such as bones really stand out.

While I am not a health physicist in any way, I have heard that most metal poisoning situations are treated with chelating agents that preferentially bind to the metallic ions. One must balance the body while doing so, so that other essential salts are not fully removed as well. So perhaps metal can be removed from the body. Whether any lasting damage would remain is another question. I hope that the information resource is of assistance.

paul tibbals
Paul Tibbals, P.E.
gas & electric
San Ramon, California, USA
(My opinions are not related to nor a statement of my employer's)

October 17, 2005

I am writing in response to Laura D in Smithfield N.C.
I have the same symptoms you have. I renovated a dental office that had mercury all over the old carpeting. It must have been a dental office for fifty years. It was very hot in the office because there was no thermostats. I worked in that renovated office for five years. I now have all the symptoms you mentioned. Never run temps any more, disease started out with severe candida infection which caused a colitis which was misdiagnosed as crohns disease.
Joints kill me, one day neck, one day mid back, knees, wrists. Moves around from one day to the next. glenn a [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- baldwin new york usa

March 18, 2008

A. Laura,
I have many of the same symptoms. I too have mercury poisoning. Got it from vaccines. Go to a homeopathic doctor or herbs for they say "detoxify". Cleaning you out will work.

Ben H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Henderson, Nevada, USA

September 7, 2009

Q. Laura! I stumbled here searching the net about signs of mercury poisoning. I could have written your post myself, verbatim. I have the exact same symptoms, and have been seeing doctors for many, many years, none of which have come up with any diagnosis, to the point that they don't really want to see me anymore and think I'm a hypochondriac. "I am so tired of being sick", I shudder reading that, I've been saying that same thing for such a long time.

I was exposed to mercury on several occasions as a child but never thought much of it until I read about the symptoms of mercury poisoning a few days ago. If you look it up you'll see that it actually only requires small amounts and brief, temporary contact with it to give long lasting effects. Mercury slowly migrates and settles in your brain, messing with all sorts of neurological functions.

I know I'm just an internet stranger, but I'd be grateful if you wanted to talk with me about this, it would be good to discuss this with someone who shares my symptoms and see if we could figure this out. That goes for anyone in this forum who thinks they suffer from the same thing.

Tomz K [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lund, Sweden

September 21, 2010

Q. I remember, too, playing with mercury on at least two occasions when I was five years old and my sister was three. She was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in her late twenties (diagnosed bipolar at 17). I have always wondered if it was the stupid mercury and her being so small, like maybe she absorbed more of it than I did. I know genetics plays such a strong role in mental illness but I have heard that it is also triggered by something in the environment, too. I guess I may never know...

patricia t [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- league city, texas, usa

September 23, 2010

A. Hi, Patricia

Oftentimes doctors can't tell us, even after large very carefully controlled double-blind studies, if a cup of coffee a day or a daily glass of red wine is good for us or bad for us; so, sorry, but are right: there is probably no way to even hazard a reasonable guess whether playing with mercury at the age of 3 was related to bipolar disorder developing 14 years later. But I can say that, as a boy, I played with mercury quite a bit, whereas my sister did not. She was bipolar by the time she was a young teenager, and I'm still not, 60 years later. This is only an anecdote and most certainly doesn't indicate that mercury is unrelated to bipolar disorder; it simply means that the relationship, if there is any at all, is a subtle thing, not an obvious one.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 12, 2011

thumbs up signI played with mercury LOTS, had my feet X-rayed every time I got shoes, never wore a seat belt, bathed only 3x a week, went barefoot everywhere all summer, didn't worm the dogs but shared my food with them, climbed trees without a net, rode my bike fast without a helmet, used waxed paper on slides on blacktop, used tools whenever I wanted without supervision, learned to shoot a rifle and pistol by the time I was 9 - AND HAD A LOT OF FUN and I'm still here and don't have any of those terrible after-effects they talk about.

I still ride a horse and work full time - and I think there are lots of people like me. Kids these days are missing out on lots of great lessons we learned along the way about being self-sufficient and taking care of yourself. We all think we need the governments to tell us what to do - and it's weakening us as nations. Most of these 'dangers' have been around forever - and lots more, too. When did we lose the common sense to just take care of ourselves and make our own decisions?

Nancy Janeva
- Fresno, California, United States

California proposition 149C notification incorporated by reference: "To prevent dangerous or fatal uncontrolled sliding, do not place waxed paper in between the buttocks and any metal object unless Building Department has certified that said metal object is level."

February 2, 2011

Q. I too played with liquid mercury as a child. At about 6 years old my brother who was in college brought me a bottle of it. I took it out and played with it every day for at least 2 weeks. I don't remember what happened to it, I guess he took it back. Around that time I started getting migraines that remained through my adult years. I have dealt with depression, mood swings, and have never been able to hold down a job for very long. I am now on disability for arthritis and fibromyalgia. I had a blood test but no mercury showed up. I only wish I could prove that the mercury caused my illnesses, because my brother is very successful and loathes the person I have become. I have had to depend on our dad for help and he calls me a loser. If there another test that is more sensitive than a blood test?

Jeanette C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lewisport Kentucky U.S.

February 1, 2013

Q. I have a serious concern. I believe someone maliciously put mercury in my oil tank at the community center. How dangerous is this? And what should I do -- mercury vapors are extremely dangerous.

Anthony P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Director of [ deleted by editor] Community Center - New York, USA

March 6, 2013

A. Hi Anthony. If there in fact is mercury in the oil tank it does sound serious.

But here's the thing: you say you "believe" someone did this but you give no facts or reasons supporting your belief, so no one can advise you in the least about whether your suspicion sounds reasonable or ridiculous. So here's two approaches, and decide which one to take for yourself, based on the facts which you haven't yet shared: either call the oil company and ask them to pump out the oil tank and analyze the contents, or notify the police of your suspicion. Best of luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 13, 2013

A. This is the real deal, had the contents analyzed and there were extremely high counts of mercury in the air and vents. I have strong suspicion who I think did this horrible act.

My health is failing, and my life is in great danger. I am in really ill health since the last time I wrote. I need to get out of the facility and get rid of all things contaminated with mercury.


Anthony P [returning]
- New York, USA

March 15, 2013

A. Sorry for your hardships, Anthony, but step 1 is calling the police.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 2, 2013

Q. Working with a detective at the moment. Are there any labs that test for mercury on clothing, like forensic labs? Some say NMS Labs in Pennsylvania?

Anthony P [returning]
- New York

April 7, 2013

A. Dear Anthony, first of all do not panic, mercury is dangerous because it is a cumulative metal, meaning it won't go out of the body, and it needs a year to get to dangerous level to effect your nervous system as if you read about gilder madness.
Anyhow do not panic. It wont effect so fast as you think, and as precaution you can make blood or other analysis of yourself at any hospital to check mercury in your body.
God bless and hope you to be healthy & wealthy for many years to come.

Cair Shishani
Khair Shishani
aircraft maintenance - Al Ain, UAE

April 10, 2013

Q. I am experiencing horrible symptoms of hair loss, memory loss, and balance loss ... it's terrible. I need to know where I can test my oil, or my hair for mercury poisoning. I am reaching and searching for answers. If anyone has any ideas please email [deleted by editor] or contact by phone [deleted by editor]. I am in really bad shape.

Anthony P [returning]
- New York usa

April 12, 2013

Q. Unfortunately, this is the real deal. Need some suggestions. The police have not helped. I need some ideas on how to test for mercury in air vapor, or test articles of clothing. I need a forensic's lab to run some tests, especially on hair!

Anthony P [returning]
- New York usa

April 13, 2013

A. Hi. You already named a forensic lab in Pennsylvania that can do any test you want. Please call them. You may also review --
which explains mercury testing, or you can buy inexpensive test kits that will be advertised on the page if you google for mercury testing. Your doctor can also do the testing.

It strikes me and probably many readers as beyond strange that the police will give no credence to the director of a community center -- because if the suspected crime turns out to be true, it will surely become national news with several layers of police management fired.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 31, 2018

Q. I'm disabled, 58, PTSD, ECD, osteoarthritis, 8th grade education, My Dad was air force. I had a 1/2 lb, at age 5-9, flunked Second grade. I only have 8th grade education. Died 2x's in 2000, I just found out today that this happened to me as a child. My memory is and always has been Toast and I can hardly count, thanks spell check. WHAT DO I DO NOW?!

Bobby H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lahaina Hawaii

September 2018

A. Hi Bobby. Sorry for your many hardships, but doctors (and possibly personal injury attorneys) are who you need to see.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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