Get to know Minamata, Fatal Conditions Due to Mercury Poisoning

Get to know Minamata, Fatal Conditions Due to Mercury Poisoning

Get to know Minamata, Fatal Conditions Due to Mercury Poisoning


Mercury (heavy mercury) is a heavy metal that has a high risk of causing damage to the nerves and organs of the human body. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mercury is one of the most dangerous chemicals that threatens public health in the world. It's dangerous, mercury poisoning has claimed thousands of lives in the city of Minamata in Japan in the 1950s and early 2000s.

In this fatal disaster, more than 2,000 people also suffered permanent disability and severe disorders which eventually became known as Minamata's disease. Want to know more clearly about Minamata's disease? Check out the following review.

What happens if someone is poisoned by mercury?

Mercury can actually be found in the wild naturally. You yourself may have consumed it unconsciously. However, new mercury poisoning will occur if you consume mercury that has been contaminated with bacteria so that the structure changes to methyl mercury. Exposure to large amounts of methyl mercury will cause poisoning.

Minamata disease caused by mercury poisoning attacks one's brain and nervous system. Symptoms include muscle spasms, numbness in the hands and feet, weakened muscles, narrowed vision, and hearing and speech disorders. In severe cases, mercury poisoning in Minamata city caused paralysis, mental disorders, coma, and death. Mercury poisoning in pregnant women also results in fetal disability, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

How can all Minamata residents be mercury poisoned?

At first Minamata's disease only attacked cats. For years residents in the city of Minamata observed changes in suspicious behavior in cats in the city. The cats in Minamata experience seizures, paralysis, and even death. It was only in the 1950s that this disease was first suffered by humans.

Apparently, there was a plastic factory that dumped waste carelessly into Minamata Bay. The waste is contaminated with very high levels of methyl mercury. In fact, Minamata Bay is a waters rich in fish and marine animals. Fish and marine animals such as shrimp and squid from Minamata Bay which have been contaminated with mercury are consumed by Minamata residents daily for years. As a result, Minamata residents began to show various symptoms of serious mercury poisoning.

After the Japanese government conducted a series of investigations, plastic factories that disposed of mercury waste were forcibly closed in 1968. The factory was also required to pay compensation to the government and all residents of Minamata city who were harmed due to this disaster.

Can Minamata's disease be cured?

Until now there has been no special bidder that can directly treat methyl mercury poisoning. Handling given usually focuses on alleviating symptoms and removing mercury toxins from the body. Patients may be asked to detoxify and be given activated charcoal which can prevent the absorption of toxins in the body.

Prevent mercury poisoning from seafood

Even though the antidote has not been found, you can prevent this heavy metal poisoning. As recommended by WHO, avoid the consumption of large fish with high mercury content such as sharks, groupers, swordfish and mackerel. We recommend that you choose smaller fish, baronang, barracuda, salmon, tuna and milkfish.

Note also where the seafood you buy comes from. Do not eat fish and seafood originating from waste-contaminated waters or under government investigation.

Also Read:

  • Wow, Apparently Rice Contains Arsenic! Is it Toxic?
  • Tips to Avoid Poisoning Due to Food Contamination
  • Eat Seafood When Pregnant, May or Not?


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