Minamata Mercury Diseases ( Presentation )

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The Town of Minamata Located on the coast of the Yatsushiro Sea in southwestern Japan. The village was very poor. Mostly fishermen and farmers.

Villagers welcome Chisso Corporation


Chisso Corporation Chisso = nitrogen Produced fertilizer

1907: Chisso Corp. builds a fertilizer plant in the Minamata. Job openings

1925: plant begins dumping untreated wastewater into Minamata Bay Kills fish Fisherman Payoffs


Chisso Corporation 1932: Chisso plant begins to produce acetaldehyde to be used in the production of plastic, perfume and drugs. Acetaldehyde is made from acetylene and water with a mercury catalyst.

After WWII plastic production boomed and Chisso Corp. grew. By 1970: Chisso brought Japan 60% of its income and owned nearly 70% of the land in Minamata.http://www-personal.umich.edu/~tobin/Smith2.jpg

Bizarre Behavior in Animals Early 1950 s: Dead fish wash ashore Crows fall out of sky Suicidal dancing cats

Mercury moves up the food chain.


Mid 1950 s: Behavior Seen in Humans Behaviors witnessed: Loss of motor control in hands Violent tremors Swaggered walk Insanity

Cat-dancing disease Nobody knew the cause of the epidemic. Many hid for fear of ridiculehttp://www.hamline.edu/personal/amurphy01/es110/eswebsite/Proj ectsSpring03/ebarker/Minamata%20Web%20Page.htm

Putting the Pieces Together 1956: Researchers at Chisso Corp. Hospital experiment on cats with wastewater from the Chisso plant. They warn Chisso corp.

Chisso corp. redirects the flow of wastewater to avoid being caught. A larger geographical area contaminated. Children born with horrifying deformities.http://www.nimd.go.jp/archives/english/tenji/a_corner/image/hasseimap.gif

Putting the Pieces Together 1968: Government ran Public Health service traces the contamination to the Minamata Chisso plant. Government halts the production of acetaldehyde 1972: Government publically announces Chisso Corp s part in the Minamata epidemic and orders Chisso Corp to pay compensation to the families that were affected.

http://www.icett.or.jp/lpca_jp.nsf/505b1fe895fd2a8c492567ca000d587d/e 35dc782654b21d7492567ca000d8c50?OpenDocument

The Aftermath 30-70 tons of methyl mercury was dumped into the Bay 10,000 people affected by Minamata disease. 3,000 died

Compensation has been given to families as recently as 1990. Highest compensation for the disaster was just under $3,000.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Methylmercury : In the Body Methylmercury exposure in humans is from consumption of fish, marine mammals, and crustaceans 95% of fish-derived methylmercury is absorbed into the gastrointestinal tract and distributed throughout the body Highest in concentration in hair


Minamata Disease in the Nervous SystemAreas in red show areas typically affected by the presence of methylmercury in the system . The lesions show characteristic signs and symptoms in Minamata disease. 1. Gait disturbance, loss of balance (ataxia), speech disturbance (Dysarthria) 2. Sight disturbance of peripheral areas in the visual fields (constriction of visual fields) 3. Stereo anesthesia (Disturbance of sensation) 4. Muscle weakness, muscle cramp (disturbance of movement) 5. Hardness of hearing (hearing disturbance) 6. Disturbance of sense of pain, touch or temperature (Disturbance of sensation)

National institute of Minamata Disease Archives

Symptoms of the Disease Mild Ataxia Muscle weakness Narrowed field of vision Hearing and speech damage Insanity Paralysis Coma DeathW. Eugene Smith Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath Minamata, 1972

Severe cases cause

More Symptoms A significant effect of Minamata is the onset of symptoms similar to those of cerebral palsy Fetal Minamata Disease A pregnant mother ingests toxic fish and the methylmercury concetrates inside the placenta. Harms the fetus while the mother is relatively unaffectedhttp://picasaweb.google.com/jazzyv0504/SA KURA#5065603192708172658

These are all children with congenital (fetal) Minamata Disease due to intrauterine methyl mercury poisoning (Harda 1986).

Mercury: The Basics Mercury (Hg) is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. It melts at 38.9oC and boils at 356.6oC. Mercury conducts electricity, expands uniformly with temperature and easily forms alloys with other metals (called amalgams). For these reasons, it is used in many products found in homes and schools.

Mercury Chemistry Mercury exists in three oxidation states: Hg0 (elemental mercury). Hg22+ (mercurous). Hg2+ (mercuric).

Mercurous and mercuric form numerous inorganic and organic chemical compounds. Organic forms of mercury, especially methyl mercury, CH3Hg(II)X, where X is a ligand (typically Cl- or OH-) are the most toxic forms.

Uses of Mercury We use its unique properties to conduct electricity, measure temperature and pressure, act as a biocide, preservative and disinfectant and catalyze reactions. It is the use of mercury in catalysis that contributed to the events in Minamata.

Other uses include batteries, pesticides, fungicides, dyes and pigments, and the scientific apparati.

Mercury in the Environment Upwards of 70% of the mercury in the environment comes from anthropogenic sources, including: Metal processing, waste incineration, and coal-powered plants. Natural sources include volcanoes, natural mercury deposits, and volatilization from the ocean. Estimates are that human sources have nearly doubled or tripled the amount of mercury in the atmosphere.

The Aquatic Mercury Cycle

Cleaning up The Minamata Spill Dredging

Other ways of cleaning mercury spill United States

Experimental ways Ongoing Research

Minamata Cleanup What s is Dredging? Underwater excavation

Minamata Cleanup Dredging Types Mechanical Hydraulic Airlift




Minamata Cleanup Disposal of Sediment Landfills Disposal facility Ocean placement Confined Disposal Facilities (CDFs)



U.S. Mercury Cleanups Precipitation/ Co precipitation Absorption treatment Membrane Filtration Biological treatment

Other ways of Clean Up Capping of Mercury

contaminated Sediments

w/ sand Inhibition of Mercury Methylation by Iron Sulfides Immobilization of Aqueous Hg (II) by Iron Sulfides

Experimental Research Nanotechnology Phytoremediation Air Stripping In Situ Thermal Desorption (ISTD)

Minamata Bay Today

Eco Park of Minamata Bay has 2 purposes A stone memorial Landfill for Mercury


ReferencesAllchin, Douglas. "The Poisoning of Minamata." SHiPS. 22 Nov 2008 . "Minamata disaster far from over." 30 Sept 2007. CNN. 22 Nov 2008 . "Minamata, Japan ." Mercury Technology Services. 22 Nov 2008 . "Minamata: The unfolding mercury disaster." Corrosion Doctors. 22 Nov 2008 . "Outline of Minamata Disease: 1. Cause and Damage of Minamata Disease." Minamata Disease Archives. National Institute for Minamata Disease . 22 Nov 2008 . Thorpe, Thomas. A Dictionary of Applied Chemistry . revised. London, England: Longmans, Greens and Co., 1921.

The EndThank you!!