Mutagen

ArtByDrew

Joined September 2008

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Artist's Description

*This element called Mercury
Quicksilver known as too
Has hidden dangers we can’t see
We now seek to construe

Mutagen with silver sheen
So shiny it’s allure
Mistaken in the way it’s seen
By falsehoods that obscure

Not friend once thought, instead a foe
Destroys through breath and touch
Hides deep within it’s host to flow
To next host it will clutch

Leaves souvenir in DNA
With children’s lives at stake
Mutates the genes where it did stay
In those that did partake*

This fractal artwork was inspired by the element mercury, also known as ‘Quicksilver’. Mercury has been hypnotic with it’s liquid silver allure throughout history in every culture on Earth. It is as deadly as it is beautiful, and could be considered the venom of mother nature, as it is a natural element of nature. However, it has been made much more prevalent and toxic due to the technologies of humankind. Mercury is the apple of Eden.

Mercury occurs in deposits throughout the world as mercuric sulfide or cinnabar, the source of the red pigment vermilion. It is highly toxic by ingestion or inhalation of the dust, and by absorption through the skin and mucous membranes. Mercury poisoning can also result from exposure to soluble forms (such as mercuric chloride or methylmercury), inhalation of mercury vapor, or eating seafood contaminated with mercury.

The consumption of seafood is by far the most significant source of ingestion-related mercury exposure in humans, although plants and livestock also contain mercury due to bioaccumulation of mercury from soil, water and atmosphere, and due to biomagnification by ingesting other mercury-containing organisms. Exposure to mercury can occur from breathing contaminated air; from eating foods containing mercury residues from processing, such as can occur with high-fructose corn syrup; and from improper use or disposal of mercury and mercury-containing objects, for example, after spills of elemental mercury or improper disposal of fluorescent light bulbs.

I’m sure you all know of those wonderful, be-green, ‘energy-efficient’ fluorescent replacement bulbs they now tout as helping to save the planet… well over 90 percent of those bulbs available are of the mercury-vapor type, that then end up in the landfills to find their way into waterways and ground water, and/or into the atmosphere. Think about that next time you buy one of these bulbs thinking you are helping the environment by being ‘green’! Be sure to get one of the non-mercury type of fluorescent bulbs ( but these are generally hard to find and more expensive ), or go back to the better mousetrap that Edison originally created ( the incandescent bulb ).

Human-generated sources such as coal plants emit approximately half of atmospheric mercury, with natural sources such as volcanoes responsible for the remainder. An estimated two-thirds of human-generated mercury comes from stationary combustion, mostly of coal. Other important human-generated sources include gold production, non-ferrous metal production, cement production, waste disposal, crematoria, caustic soda production, pig iron and steel production, mercury production (mostly for batteries), and biomass burning (yet another technology that has been falsely touted as being ‘green’).

Mercury and many of its chemical compounds, especially organomercury compounds, can also be readily absorbed through direct contact with bare, or in some cases (such as dimethylmercury) insufficiently protected, skin. Mercury and its compounds are commonly used in chemical laboratories, hospitals, dental clinics, and facilities involved in the production of items such as fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, and explosives.

Fish and shellfish have a natural tendency to concentrate mercury in their bodies, often in the form of methylmercury, a highly toxic organic compound of mercury. Species of fish that are high on the food chain, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna, and tilefish contain higher concentrations of mercury than others. As mercury and methylmercury are fat soluble, they primarily accumulate in the viscera, although they are also found throughout the muscle tissue. When this fish is consumed by a higher level predator, the entire body burden of mercury in the consumed fish is transported to the one that consumes that fish.

Since fish are less efficient at depurating than accumulating methylmercury, fish-tissue concentrations increase over time. Thus species that are high on the food chain amass body burdens of mercury that can be ten times higher than the species they consume. This process is called biomagnification. Think about that next time you are enjoying your seafood dinner!

The exposure to mercury through seafood is well known. What isn’t well know is the atmospheric exposure to mercury that we all breath in with every breath each day. 27 percent of all atmospheric mercury is from stationary combustion, of which coal-fired power plants are the largest aggregate source. This includes power plants fueled with natural gas where the mercury has not been removed. Emissions from coal combustion are between one and two orders of magnitude higher than emissions from oil combustion, depending on the country.

Mercury is such a highly reactive toxic agent that it is difficult to identify its specific mechanism of damage, and much remains unknown about the mechanism. It damages the central nervous system, endocrine system, kidneys, and other organs, and adversely affects the mouth, gums, and teeth. Exposure over long periods of time or heavy exposure to mercury vapor can result in brain damage and ultimately death. Mercury and its compounds are particularly toxic to fetuses and infants. Women who have been exposed to mercury in pregnancy usually give birth to children with serious birth defects.

Mercury exposure in young children can have severe neurological consequences, preventing nerve sheaths from forming properly. Mercury inhibits the formation of myelin. There is some recent evidence that mercury poisoning may predispose to Young’s syndrome (men with bronchiectasis and low sperm count). Mercury poisoning’s effects partially depend on whether it has been caused by exposure to elemental mercury, inorganic mercury compounds (as salts), or organomercury compounds.

And last, but surely not least, research has shown that mercury is a mutagen. In biology, a mutagen (Latin, literally origin of change) is a physical or chemical agent that changes the genetic material (usually DNA) of an organism and thus increases the frequency of mutations above the natural background level. As many mutations cause cancer, mutagens are typically also carcinogens. Our exposure to mercury dooms our offspring to irreversible and unnatural mutations of their own DNA.

I know this was particularly long, but I hope it has been educational about an issue that has not been recognized and dealt with as the true danger it truly is to ALL life on Earth… not just humans. Much thanks to Wiki for some background info.

You can read more about this growing issue at the links that I have provided below, as I have just nicked the top of a very large iceberg with the information given above. Sorry… but you will have to cut and paste the URL of the first URL, due to the really lame formatting Redbubble uses instead of standard HTML, as the Wiki address uses a parenthesis in the address that Redbubble server interprets as something else. There are ways to secure your input these days Redbubble even with standard HTML allowed in input fields. I’d be happy to set that up for you at my modest programming rate of 60 bucks an hour… and I admit that using a parenthesis in a web address is also another really lame practice that should be addressed by Wiki as well.

Mercury – the element
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(element)

Mercury Poisoning
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_poisoning

The original is artwork is 3600 × 3600 pixels at 300 pixels per inch. This is actually an IFS type flame created in Incendia (the same type of fractal created in Apophysis) combined with 3D base shape meshes. The only post processing was to add black borders to bring the artwork to a more standard printing size.

Artwork Comments

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