Archive for April 5th, 2010

Minamata Disease (methylmercury poisoning) on Public Health & Social Justice Website

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We have recently updated our open-access poweroint presentation on the public health and social justice website covering the history of Minamata Disease (methylmercury poisoning) and illustrated with poignant photography of W Eugene Smith. For decades the Chisso Corporation dumped methylmercury into Minamata Bay Japan, resulting in high levels of mercury in fish caught by bay’s residents, leading to miscarriages, congenital Minamata disease, and adult Minamata Disease. The slide show discusses the toxic effects of mercury on human health, the legal history of events at Minamata, and the conflicts faced by those who worked at Chisso (including many who had affected family members and the company’s chief physician/researcher). The slide show also includes some of W Eugene Smith’s famous photographs from the Country Doctor and Nurse Midwife series, as well as some of his well-known war photographs. The presentation is open-access, and can therefore be used with trainees and health professionals interested in seeing and learning more about the consequences of mercury exposure and the need for strong public health measures to reduce exposures. The presentation can be found on the Environmental Health page of the public health and social justice website at

posted by Martin Donohoe, MD