Minamata japan case study
From: Abdullah K.
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It started with the town cats. In the mids, the people of Minamata, Japan began to notice their cats were going crazy and falling into the sea. Some people thought the cats were committing suicide. Soon after, a strange illness appeared to be going around town.
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Japan and the Mercury-Poisoned Sea: A Reckoning That Won't Go Away
Minamata Convention on Mercury | International Cooperation | US EPA
In the s, residents of Minamata, Japan, noticed that something was wrong with the city's cats. As the SciShow's Hank Green recounts in the video below, the cats would convulse, make strange noises and jerking "dancing" motions—and eventually die. Soon, these symptoms spread to the local townspeople, and scientists began searching for the cause of the terrifying sickness. The culprit was soon revealed to be the Chisso Corporation, a Japanese chemical company with a factory in Minamata. About 30 years earlier, the company had begun making an organic chemical called acetaldehyde, using mercury as a catalyst to trigger the needed reactions. Afterwards, the company dumped the leftover chemicals into Minamata Bay, where the mercury came into contact with bacteria that transformed it into the most noxious form of the metal: methylmercury. This toxic substance was absorbed by plants, which were in turn eaten by fish.
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The Minamata Disaster and the Disease That Followed
Minamata disease , sometimes referred to as Chisso-Minamata disease , is a neurological disease caused by severe mercury poisoning. Signs and symptoms include ataxia , numbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness , loss of peripheral vision , and damage to hearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanity , paralysis , coma , and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect fetuses in the womb.
Methylmercury, the causative agent of Minamata disease, can easily penetrate the brain, and adult-type Minamata disease patients showed neurological symptoms according to the brain regions where the neurons, mainly in the cerebrum and cerebellum, were damaged. In addition, fetuses are exposed to methylmercury via the placenta from maternal fish consumption, and high-level exposure to methylmercury causes damage to the brains of infants. Typical patients with fetal-type Minamata disease i.
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