Mercury is NOT TOXIC to anyone…

… at ambient exposure levels in the U.S.

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental over-Protection Agency proposed “the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants.”

The EPA stated,

Toxic air pollutants like mercury from coal- and oil-fired power plants have been shown to cause neurological damage, including lower IQ, in children exposed in the womb and during early development.

This statement is false. There is no such evidence from any credible scientific study.

Mercury is known to be toxic only at extremely high (i.e., poisoning) exposure levels that have been rarely experienced in the real world.

In addition to the lack of credible positive evidence linking typical mercury exposures with adverse health effects, studies of Seychelles Islands children have failed to link mercury exposure with developmental or other health problems.

It is the dose that makes the poison — and ambient exposures to mercury in the U.S. are simply not high enough to cause any harm.

If we were to consider mercury as a neurotoxin, as the EPA does, then we would have to consider water as a neurotoxin, too, since overhydration can cause fatal disturbance of brain function.

For more on mercury visit’s Debunkosaurus.

25 thoughts on “Mercury is NOT TOXIC to anyone…”

  1. If mercury were the dangerous neurotoxin the EPA claims, most of my childhood friends and I would be totally starkers by now. We would break open thermometers and coat pennies with the mercury, or roll it around on our hands. Great stuff to play with!

  2. I am a little confused about this. Is Mercury a hazard or not?
    With the issue about Compact Flouresent Bulbs mercury is supposed to be a big deal. But this article suggests the opposite. Can you please clear the air, so to speak.

  3. If mercury is so bad from power plants, why are they forcing us to use CFL bulbs? Hmmmm! What a joke the EPA has become!

  4. I agree with “KeepDad”… we did the same thing. In fact, I have two small bottles of mercury laying around somewhere that I’m not even concerned about. But this story seems to be about “airborne” mercury and not the liquid. But if the airborne variety was/is so fatal, why are we still populating the earth. Like everything else coming from the envirowhackos, their claims have all bluster and no substance. The problem is that the media thrives on lies, deceptions, and scare tactics, and therefore that’s all they talk about… including the FNC!

  5. If murcury is such a threat why are CCF bulbs even sold legally in the USA?
    I think that all CCF bulb sales should be stopped immediately as they are a thret to health and well being of every citizen of the USA.

  6. I am so sick of hearing about Mercury poisoning from the anti-fossil fuel guys who use it as a straw man to vilify oil/gas/coal industry in order to support taxpayer funded green energy development.

  7. The good old EPA also gives dire warnings about eating fish due to mercury contamination of the meat. In California, every store that sells fresh fish has a BIG warning sign, especially PREGNANT WOMAN SHOULD NOT EAT FISH, Never mind that fish oils are well known to be GOOD FOR YOU. But where is common sense involved in any EPA edicts?
    Consider that the Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world, and not only are they smarter than Americans, but they also eat about 100,000 times more fish per week than us (maybe a slight exaggeration).

  8. Bryan: Mercury vapor is a hazard, not normal mercury. When a CCF bulb breaks or is damaged its the vapor inside that is dangerous.

  9. This is typical government BS. Mercury and other chemicals that are harmful at high dosage levels are not harmful at current dosage levels. Along with Mercury their is BPA with an almost 40 year record of not harming people but the environmental crazies tout it’s dangers. Second hand smoke is another one. They make claims of damage but have no proof. Claims like that are aimed at increasing their budgets or contributions. How about GHG as a pollutant? How about the arrogance of the politicians thinking they can control climate and trying to regulate CO2, an essential gas. It all boils down to money not science.

  10. CFC light bulbs contain a minute amount of Mercury vapor and would not be harmful if the bulb broke in a room. The concentration would be too small to cause concern. Mercury vapor is dangerous but as was pointed out, the dose makes the poison.

  11. The bulb itself contains about 0.6 mg of mercury, but given an average ratio of source of electricity from coal-fired plants, its reduction in electricity usage over the life of the bulb saves about 5 mg of mercury emitted by the source power plant. And the 0.6 mg can be contained through proper recycling, as opposed to the 5 mg that is dispersed through our air by the coal burning power plants.

  12. Short answer: they reduce mercury emissions from reduced usage of coal burning by about 10 times the amount of mercury they contain themselves.

  13. Ah, Left-coast Jim, not a skeptic, I see. Just by the by, mercury is not a major concern, although the inconsistency of panic over say, mercury thermometers and actually mandating mercury-containing fixtures should be highlighted.

    Do you note the incongruity of claiming mercury-containing fixtures reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired generation (not including residences supplied form other than coal-fired electricity, meaning about 52%) when people are not actually forced to purchase coal-fired emissions and bring them into their homes? People mostly import the electrons, not the exhaust. Just sayin’…

  14. RE: JimCA
    Your math may be right but not the logic. For many converting to low wattage CF bulbs just makes our electric furnaces run more to keep up with the loss of heat from our incandnesent bulbs resulting in no savings what so ever.

  15. 1 – Does mercury build up in one’s body with repeated exposures? Or is each exposure a separate and unrelated event?

    Are the vapors of10 separatly broken CFL bulbs over the course, say 10 weeks, no worse than the vapors of one broken CFL bulb in that same time? Or does that mercury continue to add to one’s lifetime exposure?

  16. Mercury is bioaccumulative in the sense that renal excretion is relatively slow, so if you are constantly exposed at a rate greater than excretion the level of mercury in your system will increase. One example of this would be fur felt hatters who used mercury nitrate to shrink and mat fur felt. Because the process of hat making required the felt to be shrunk in boiling water and dried several times workers were exposed to significant amounts of mercury vapor in poorly ventilated workshops. Note, however, the extraordinary exposures over long terms required to precipitate the “Danbury Shakes”, which is actually neural damage from mercury poisoning. See e.g., VanPatten, Peg, “The Mad Hatter Mercury Mystery” (2002). Wrack Lines. Paper 24.

    The bottom line is that really large mercury exposures will cause harm while those experienced by the general US population will not.

  17. I ran an analytical laboratory that measured lung function and elemental, liquid mercury was used in the columns for sampling the lung air. One of the female technicians became pregnant so we were concerned about mercury exposure and the potenetial effects on the baby. The lab benches were removed and oceans of mercury had accumulated under the benches from years of spills. Twenty hour urine samples were collected from the technician, over and over, and elevated mercury levels were never found and the baby was fine and normal.

  18. Those “emmisions” are near the plant, NOT forced into a home through legislation. If congress gets its way we will HAVE TO buy CFLs. Seems very dishonest to talk about the dangers of mercury then flip off the dangers of mercury. And you say “if disposed of properly”. And people WILL dispose of these properly vs just throwing them in the garbage or in the dump?

    BTW how are you even comparing the amounts? How many households did you compare to the output of the power plant? Did you assume all households would have cfls and their daily disposal of said cfls is less than the output of the power plant? “Average ratio of source”?

    Seriously, spare us the witch doctor act. So you’re claiming the accumulation of millions of CFLs disposed of by millions of households in the US per year poses NO concern-able threat?

  19. Dear sir,
    Refer study conducted on Mercury hazard :

    See some of the links on Mercury used in spiritual and cultural application in India.
    There are innumerable Sky shops in internet and spiritual/cultural outlets in India, which sells Parad Mercury idols/cups/beads/rings.They claim spiritual receptivity increases, if one is surrounded in Mercury pond or idol. If they do pray in front every day or drink milk/holy water from Parad cup, then all their problem would get solved and they achieve what they desire such as wealth, fame, health, etc.
    Just google” Parad idols” in internet, then so many sites would pop up selling all kind of Mercury based products for spiritual applications.
    Mercury is dangerous.

  20. the metal is relatively safe as long as you dont expose your skin to it for too long (30 min max) and wash areas of contact with soap and water.I personally wear polyphony or latex gloves to handle the stuff. And avoid breathing in vapours,although little vapour is emitted by the element at room temp,keep the area well ventilated during and after use of the metal and make sure you keep the metal in a air tight container to avoid vapour build up.Now for the compounds?(salts,oxide..ect.)STAY AWAY DONT EVEN TOUCH THEM WITH A STICK!!!

  21. not too much vapour is emitted at room temp off the metal.I would still take precautions if i were you since 80% of inhaled vapour is absorbed by the body.One of the precautions i take is ventilating the area during and after use and trying not to breath directly above the stuff.If you did breath enough vapour then you definitely will be poisoned.Although its toxic to be absorbed by the body its still fun to play with.The metal is actually 100’s of times less toxic than its compounds since its so hard for the metal to get into you,while you could be poisoned if a mercury salt landed on your skin.while it takes only 1.4g of mercury chloride to kill you by ingesting it would take a quarter of a pound of the metal drunk to reach just minimal lethal doses.But im not saying to drink the metal although most of it will pass through you it still wont be very bright to do so because you still will absorb that 0.01% of the metal.Just be safe,and have fun.

  22. a ccf bulb has not enough mercury inside it for it to be a poison,would take a lot of broken bulbs to even start noticing any poisoning symptoms and I mean loads!!!

  23. People say tuna has mercury, but doesn’t really mean it’s safe
    ingest and injecting are two different things when you inject
    mercury your bypassing your immune system going straight to the
    bloodstream but when you ingest mercury like tuna it goes through the
    immune system and the immune system filters most of the toxins out of
    the body you can ingest snake venom but injecting it will kill you

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