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Neurotoxicity and Mercury

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Submitted By trena229
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There is a correlation between neurotoxicity’s and overexposure to mercury. The use of EBSCO Host, allowed a search for mercury and neurotoxicity’s in databases: ALT Health Watch, CINAHL PLUS, Health Source: Nursing/Academic edition, and Medline. Several articles were reviewed and chosen for evaluation. These articles discuss recorded evidence of increased mercury exposure and the related effects of neurotoxins. Increasing public knowledge of neurotoxicity risks when exposed to mercury may decrease physiological and psychological defects.

There is a correlation of neurotoxicity’s and increased exposure to mercury. Mercury is found in the earth’s core and is found in the air and water (S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, 2008). Mercury has a similar response to the body as lead. It has been proven that lead, another neurotoxic metal found in the earth’s core, can be extremely dangerous with increased exposure (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences - National Institute of Health, 2011). As defined by business (Business dictionary, 2012), a neurotoxin is a biological or chemical substance (such as mercury compounds) that primarily affects the central nervous system to produce behavioral, emotional, or body-movement (motor) abnormalities. Thus, being exposed to bioengineered chemicals such as methyl mercury increases the chances of a person exhibiting neurotoxicity’s immediately or over time of exposure. In recent evidence, a small amount of mercury was found to have neuro-toxic effects in lab animals. Mercury is a heavy metal that is grown in the earths’ core; however, the biotransformed element of methyl mercury is the most toxic form of mercury in the environment (Jose & Luiz M. de Nascimento, 2010). The purpose of this review is to state factual information about mercury and its components and highlight the importance of reducing ones exposure. Many parents debate whether or not to allow their children to receive immunizations due to the existence of methyl mercury in the vaccine. Also, pregnant women are concerned of how much mercury is consumed and the effects on the fetus.
Instead of focusing on vaccines and mercury, the goal of this review is to grasp an understanding of the harmful effects of mercury and the sources by which humans come into contact with this substance. Overexposure to lead has been determined to be dangerous to human growth and development. Does mercury have the same effects?
Using the Augusta state University (ASU) Reece Library electronic resource EBSCO HOST, searches were made using the key words, such as, “Mercury and Neurotoxicity’s,” “Childhood development and neurotoxicity’s,” “vaccinations and neurotoxicity’s,” and “mercury and vaccinations.” Also, Google search engine was use to narrow such topic by searching for “mercury exposure and neurotoxicity’s.” While using Google search, there were a list of peer reviewed articles that was verified with ASU EBSCO HOST database.

There is speculation as to whether or not mercury causes neurotoxicity’s, therefore; David Geier and Mark r. Geier did a Prospective Study of Mercury Toxicity Biomarkers in Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This quantitative study measured the amount of porphyrins, derivatives of the heme synthesis pathway that afford a measure of xenobiotic exposure (David A. Geier, 2007, p. 1723), in the urine. The excess of porphyrins in urine, porphyrinuria, inhibits key enzymatic process in genetic deficiencies, hepatitis, renal disease, and erythroid disease. As found in animals and humans, when exposed to heavy metals, such as mercury, the porphyrines are elevated as well. During this study, the researchers selected two groups of autistic patients in the United States and France via quota sampling (Nieswiadomy, 2012, p. 153). Both groups were tested at LabCorp (United States) or Laboratoire Philippe Auguste (France). While selecting the subject’s, controls of Age-, gender-, and race-match of neurotypical siblings of the ASD patients (David A. Geier, 2007, p. 1724) and general population controls were placed to represent the total population. There were 63 ASD patients in the United States and 23 patients in France that were tested for urine porphyrin markers. The results showed the children with ASD exhibited higher readings of porphyrin in urine then their siblings, also the profiles were “consistent with significantly increased burdens of mercury (David A. Geier, 2007, p. 1729). To perform this research, lab specimens were tested from the collection of subjects’ urine. Once collected, the researchers compared the urine with ASD patients who have not gone through a metal detoxification and with the matched sibling controls.
As for another study, methyl mercury was tested for neurobehaviors and molecular changes via a descriptive study that reviewed “different experimental approaches to the study the effects of environmentally relevant exposures in vivo and in vitro (Carolina Johansson, 2007).” The researchers viewed articles of the Neuropathological effects in experimental animals and found that a pattern was formed in rats’ fetuses at full term and neonates when exposed post prenatal (Carolina Johansson, 2007). Also, during the reviewed study, lesions were noted in the newborn rats throughout the central nervous system (CNS) (Carolina Johansson, 2007). This non-experimental design reviewed current knowledge of “the developmental neurotoxicity of methyl mercury and the underlying molecular process (Carolina Johansson, 2007).”
Lastly, there was a quantitative case study of nine conveniently selected outpatient care subjects with apparent mercury toxic encephalopathies. This study revealed eight of the nine subjects exhibited clinical symptoms of regressive Autistic disorders (Geier, 2007, p. 843). To analyze statistically, the patients with toxic encephalopathies were compared with the same total amount of mercury exposure, prenatal or postnatal. It also evaluated the age onset of the regressive disorder (Geier, 2007, p. 838). During the collection of data, each subjects’ delivery process, age of which they were exposed to mercury and the onset of regression were considered (Geier, 2007, p. 838).

Limitations and Strengths
There is limited research on the outcome of mercury and its correlation of neurotoxicity’s. However, the research that’s available, argues mercury in vaccinations and not as much mercury and increased exposure.
History and research reveals the importance of mercury and its ability to become toxic the human being. Sensibly, mercury is being researched more because of the fear of vaccinations.
While reviewing different journal articles, the idea of mercury having neurotoxic effects on human and animals were concurrent. Slowly, throughout history, heavy metals, such as aluminum and lead, have been deemed toxic after being used in the medical field, house hold products, and manufacturing industries. It is not until there is a high correlation between exposure and illness when researchers become curious to the causes of the illness. Therefore there is an increased need for research on the toxic correlation of mercury and its ability to cause neurotoxicity prior to a crisis situation. Consequently, the health and nursing field would be able to have an in depth understanding of those who have been or will be diagnosed with neurotoxicity’s and how to educate the public on how to limit one’s exposure. Once there is a deeper understanding, nurses will know how to effectively document appropriate nursing diagnosis and respond with evidence-based practice when treating someone with neurotoxicity’s related to high exposure of mercury.

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