If you’re anything like me, you fall into the category of women who are caring for their children and their parents or grandparents. My aunt and my grandmother are both in their 70s. I’m grateful that they are in good health and are active. But I will confess that I worry about them the most when they are up visiting Lake Erie with their friends. It may sound silly, but I worry because they always tell me about the wonderful local, fresh caught fish they had each trip.
Growing up, I spent a lot of my summers visiting Port Clinton and Marblehead on the Lake Erie coast. Even as I type this, I can see myself sitting in a corner booth of a small Ohio diner watching the fishing boats pull up to the dock to sell their morning’s catch. I ate a lot of fresh caught fish sandwiches with my aunt and grandmother. I know they taste amazing! But what I know now is that those fish are tainted with mercury. Lake Erie is surrounded by coal-fired plants that spew mercury into our air. Mercury in the air doesn’t stay in one place, it is absorbed into the water droplets in the air and circulated through the clouds, and eventually rains down into our lake.
We know what mercury does our our children. Today though, I’d like to highlight what mercury does to our children’s grandparents. Since mercury is a neurotoxin, it functions in the degradation of the brain. A child’s brain is impacted by mercury in a way that can hinder the child from reaching their full potential. An adult’s brain has already developed and is now used to maintain the information necessary for everyday life and beyond.
6 Facts About Mercury:
- Mercury can have an affect on the Central Nervous System, specifically the brain, by concentrating in the cerebral spinal fluid.
- It can also inhibit the microtubules in the brain which then reduce the nerves’ function and their communication.
- Our brains rely on the communication between the nerves to do things like remembering what it felt like to hold our baby for the first time, or how to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
- As we age and these memories aren’t so recent, we rely more and more on our brains to retain them.
- Alzheimer’s disease was reported to affect an estimated 5.4 million Americans in 2011.
- Research has shown that mercury can be a causal factor in Alzheimer’s disease…even more so than the concerns of thimerosal being a leading factor in autism!
Of course, I want my family to be able to enjoy their summer visiting Lake Erie. I want them to eat and be as carefree as the day allows. But I also don’t want to worry that their memories could be affected by their unwitting consumption of mercury. This summer, as excited as I am to share my days with family, I’ll be encouraging them to skip the fish and order a burger instead. I know that memories can fade in time, but I’d hate to hurry it along with a side of mercury to accompany their catch of the day!
Illustration: Shane Harrison