The Mercury Load
While we the general public are generally aware of the amount of mercury we are exposed to from the fish we eat and the amalgam in our dental fillings, no one so far has taken into account the additional mercury load we may be unwittingly ingesting from our snacking and drinking habits. If Dufault and her co-workers are correct in their analyses, the average person is swallowing an additional 28.5 mcg/day of mercury - and this figure may be even higher among teenagers, as they tend to eat more snack foods, and drink more colas and sodas.
Nevertheless, some critics accuse Dufault and the IATP of being alarmist. Toxicologist Carl Winter, of the FoodSafe Program at the University of California at Davis, says that the most toxic form of mercury is methylmercury, the type found in the fish we eat, as this form is more easily absorbed into the body. It's possible, he says, that Dufault and Wallinga have been measuring elemental mercury, which is not so
Even so, there's no such thing as 'safe mercury' in any form, and high doses can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system. Furthermore, this unsuspected additional mercury load from snacks and soft drinks might also be a contributory factor to the alarming rise we've seen in recent years of cases of attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism and behavioural problems among our youngsters.
As Wallinga says, "For me, the take-home message is really that this [HFCS] is a totally avoidable, unnecessary exposure to mercury."