The pros and cons of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can be found here and here. Concern over massive switching from incandescent to CFLs in order to save the environment centers on the risk of toxicity from mercury used in the manufacture of CFLs.

The risk of mercury toxicity is also relevant to CAM in light of the inclusion of mercury in Ayurvedic medicines.

Dr. Mark Houston from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee just published a review that lists the following toxicities of mercury to internal organs.

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Increased carotid thickening and obstruction
  • Stroke
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Kidney disease

The Oklahoma State University website lists other mercury toxicities.

Primary symptoms

  • Fine tremor (shaking) of the hand
  • Tremor in the tongue and eyelids, eventually progressing to trouble balancing and walking
  • Soft and spongy gums, loose teeth, sores, increased saliva
  • Mood swings, irritability, fright for no apparent reason
  • Hallucinations, memory loss, and inability to concentrate

Other health effects

  • Skin allergy, with rash and itching
  • Mercury vapor can cause the lens of the eye to discolor
  • Inorganic mercury compounds can cause burns or severe irritation of the skin and eyes on contact

4/11/07 21:07 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.