The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Bad teeth

Thursday, 8 March 2012


We like this account of the dangers posed by mercury emissions from crematoria:

Mercury is an odd element. It is a metal, yet liquid at ambient temperature and it is very volatile, easily becoming a gas. Keep in mind mercury is an element, therefore cannot be destroyed.

When mercury is emitted from the stack of an incinerator, it exists in its gaseous state while dropping to the surrounding terrain. When atmospheric mercury falls to Earth, it does so as a dry deposition. Bacteria in soils and water then convert this mercury into the very toxic and lethal methylmercury, and it is this form of mercury that is taken up by tiny aquatic plants and organisms. Fish, for instance, that eat these plants and organisms build up methylmercury in their tissue. As bigger fish eat the smaller fish, the methylmercury is concentrated farther up the food chain. This process is referred to as ” bio-accumulation.” This accumulation of methylmercury can reach a level millions of times higher than the water it came from.

Methylmercury is freely transported across the human blood brain barrier, as well as across the placenta, where it is absorbed by the developing fetus. Children with this history show a loss of IQ points, decreased performance of language skills and memory function, as well as attention deficits. In adults there can be cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and autoimmune effects.


10 comments on “Bad teeth

  1. Saturday 10th March 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Gosh, of course, hatters. Yes, Kathryn, and thank you for the reminder.

    I’m sure roly-poly merc is a no-no which is why kids can no longer delight in its silky elusiveness. Those who did will certainly be cerebrally subverted, as will those like me who carried lead air rifle pellets in their mouths (for speed of reloading). For us, dementia started at 30.

  2. Kathryn Edwards

    Saturday 10th March 2012 at 4:44 pm

    And mercury’s far from harmless when ‘solid’: the vapour from it is what makes you mad as a mercury-handling hatter.

  3. Kathryn Edwards

    Saturday 10th March 2012 at 4:36 pm

    ‘Dentists who advocate the use of amalgam point out that it is durable, cheap, and easy to use. On average, resin composites last only half as long as dental amalgam (although more recent studies find them comparable to amalgam in durability), and dental porcelain is much more expensive. However, the gap between amalgam and composites may be closing. Further, concerns have been raised about the endocrine disrupting (in particular, estrogen-mimicking) effects of plastic chemicals such as Bisphenol A used in composite resins.’

  4. Saturday 10th March 2012 at 10:38 am

    OI! Any dentists listening? WHY do you still use mercury amalgam sometimes??

  5. Saturday 10th March 2012 at 8:07 am

    As far as I am aware it is harmless and inert if solid.


    Saturday 10th March 2012 at 1:08 am

    Quicksilver ; – easily produced by heating the Italian mineral Cinnabar. Used by the Phoenicians as a mirror. They were the first European mining economy because in their controlled territory,there was uniquely tin and copper together.

    Later the Romans sourced their supply from Cornwall (tin that is).

    Isaac Newton’s bouts of madness were caused be chronic mercury poisoning self-induced by his experimental researches.

  7. Friday 9th March 2012 at 10:43 am

    Any of you bright young things out there aware of the effect of solid mercury resting in the soil after a body has decomposed. Does it still leach in it’s solid state?

    PS I also remember rolling it around the classroom like marbles. I know, I know, I don’t look that old.

  8. Friday 9th March 2012 at 9:47 am

    You are absolutely right James, we do need to grasp the issue of mercury fillings and open air pyres. Either, people who are planning to be cremated on a pyre could either deal with it before death, or it could be done after. We have recruited someone with the skills willing to do the necessary. None of this is insurmountable.

  9. Friday 9th March 2012 at 8:53 am

    I nwas told that dentists are still using mercury amalgams, when there are alternatives. Why?

  10. Thursday 8th March 2012 at 2:49 pm

    We were given a globule of it at the dentist and allowed to play with it while we waited, and take it home in the palm of a small moist hand until it inevitably spilled and shattered. It was great.
    But this is nasty stuff indeed, as it ow appears; and 12 – 15% of emissions is from cremations.
    With new EU legislation scrubbers on the crematoria chimneys this will reduce as a % of total emissions.
    If open funeral pyres ever catch hold we must tackle this issue of amalgum.

    While what we have in the food chain already will never go away, perhaps we are slowly evolving, as our knowledge expands.
    As ever, a race to the finish!

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