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The Mercury Poisoning Project

This website is a compendium of relevant documents, resources, and links that describe the environmental health risks from mercury exposure primarily associated with its magico-religious and ethnomedical uses, and the failure of government to address the latent epidemic of MERCURY POISONING resulting from these exposures.

Background

Elemental mercury (Hg0) is put to a wide variety of magico-religious uses, most problematically the sprinkling of mercury on floors of homes in Caribbean and Latino communities, in the generic belief that mercury attracts good and repels evil. These indoor mercury vapor spills (mean weight ~10 grams) are persistent, and release neurotoxic levels of mercury vapor for a decade or two. Surveys in Caribbean and Latino communities have demonstrated widespread and large-scale sales mercury sales and use for ritualistic and ethnomedical purposes, elevated mercury vapor levels in public hallways, elevated mercury content in wastewater, and elevated urine and breast milk mercury levels.

Despite this evidence, no clear connection has been drawn between ritualistic mercury use and these elevated levels, nor has any pathology been definitively associated with magico-religious mercury use. Social, political, and economic factors have acted to preclude advocacy by and for these affected communities, whose members are largely unaware of their mercury vapor exposure (frequently at second-hand, from spills by some prior occupant), and of its adverse health effects.

Without the political mandate to act, government health and environmental agencies have not allocated the resources necessary to address this latent environmental health disaster. This site suggests actions necessary to investigate and respond to this impending public health emergency, as presently there is no coordinated plan for assessing and remediating the tens of thousands of dwellings around the country certain to be contaminated with actionable levels of mercury vapor. (introduction is abstracted from A. Wendroff's article in Environmental Practice )

The EPA's Ritualistic Uses of Mercury Task Force Report was placed on the Superfund web site on February 12, 2003. It can be found here.

This site last updated 02/02/2007