Exposure to mercury occurs from breathing contaminated air, ingesting contaminated water and food, and having dental and medical treatments. Mercury, at high levels, may damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. It has been linked to Autism and other neurological disorders. It is a powerful neurotoxin which when either inhaled or ingested can cause brain damaged especially if exposed over long periods of time even at very low doses.
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal which occurs at especially high levels in out local limestone used by Lehigh Cement and has several forms. The metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white, odorless liquid. If heated such as in the 2750o cement kilns employed by Lehigh, it is a colorless, odorless gas. Mercury combines with other elements, such as chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen, to form inorganic mercury compounds or “salts,” which are usually white powders or crystals many of which are water soluble. Mercury also combines with carbon to make organic mercury compounds. The most common and toxic form, methylmercury, is produced mainly by microscopic organisms in the water and soil. More mercury in the environment can increase the amounts of methylmercury that these small organisms make. Due to the unusually high mercury content of our limestone used by Lehigh we have much higher methylmercury in our environment than elsewhere.
Go to the Document section of our website and look under the category Mercury.
Much of the information displayed here was obtained from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Wikipedia has some good information at Mercury Toxicity and safety