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New study finds mercury exposure, even at low levels is linked to eczema

Mercury exposure – possibly through eating seafood – is linked to a greater risk of contracting atopic dermatitis, a common skin disease known more commonly as eczema, report Korean researchers in the journal Environmental Research.

Results from this study are among the first to show a link between mercury and the common skin condition, which is rising in industrialized countries. Effects were seen at and below mercury blood levels deemed safe by U.S. agencies.

The study’s findings provide further evidence of an effect of mercury on the immune system.

Causes of eczema elude experts but most agree genetic, immune and environmental factors combine to increase disease risk. Symptoms include dry, itchy patches that can lead to unsightly red and inflamed skin. The persistent condition can affect personal and professional lives.

Mercury is a toxic chemical found globally throughout the environment. Most people are exposed to a particularly toxic form of mercury – known as methylmercury – from eating seafood. Scientists agree that mercury can harm the developing fetus and children.

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