by Brenton Bauer, MD 2011 | firstname.lastname@example.org
You are probably wondering why the title of this article references a character from Lewis Carrol’s famous childhood story, Alice and Wonderland, when we are supposed to be discussing the effects of mercury on human health. Well, interestingly enough, it has everything to do with mercury. To take you back on a quick journey through history, 19th century hat makers (aka “hatters”) used to utilize a mercury-based solution in the process of curing animal pelts for their hats. Furthermore, they typically worked in very poorly ventilated workshops and, during the curing process, they would inhale large quantities of vaporized mercury. Over time, these hatters began developing neurological symptoms, which Carrol used as the framework for the idiosyncrasies seen in the character of the Mad Hatter. As Lewis Carrol has shown us, mercury and its impact on human health is not a novel idea. There is, however, a lot of hype regarding this heavy metal in contemporary news. Below, we strive to break down some of the key issues regarding mercury’s interaction with human health in today’s day and age.