Illinois Teratogen Information Service: Methylmercury and Pregnancy
Methylmercury and Pregnancy
Volume 12, No. 3, July 2005
Mercury is a naturally occurring substance that exists in a variety of chemical forms.
Elemental (inorganic) mercury is found in thermometers and dental amalgams. Mercury vapor (inorganic) is produced by the burning of fossil fuel, or by volcanic eruption, and is dispersed widely in the atmosphere. It is returned to the Earth’s surface via rainwater and undergoes biosynthesis in aquatic environments to become organic mercury, also called methyl mercury (MeHg). Small fish consume the
deposited MeHg and bioaccumulation occurs up through the food chain. This issue of Risk Newsletter focuses on the reproductive risks of MeHg mercury. See Risk Newsletter Volume 8 (3) for a reproductive review regarding elemental mercury.