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How Well Do You Know Your Water?

Updated on October 22, 2019



Have you ever been overwhelmed by a feeling of anxiety that seemed unprovoked? Judging by the fact that "Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year," there is a decent chance that you are able to relate to this question(Anxiety and Depression Association of America). However one question that still seems to boggle the minds of those who delve into the feud "nature vs. nurture", or the difference between biological and sociological/psychological effects on individuals, is the question of causality. Seeing as how medical doctors are trained to discover biological factors that may cause certain issues, it would only make sense that they would believe that "anxiety may be linked to an underlying health issue," whereas psychologists would most likely look for environmental and psychological effects(Mayo Clinic).

Nature vs. Nurture

Mixture of Both
Traumatic events
Heart disease
Stress due to an illness
Stress buildup
Drugs or alcohol
Other mental health disorders
Will to survive/ "Fight or Flight"

Location, Location, Location

After casually speaking with numerous individuals that lived on opposite sides of the united states, it seemed as though there was a correlation between anxiety levels and location. The idea that someone born in a specific state is automatically doomed to suffer from anxiety seemed a bit far-fetched so it was necessary to uncover state-specific effects on a deeper level. Rather than immediately taking to the internet and polling different individuals from different parts of the United States, the research seemed to lead to place that was outside of the scope of research, but gave much needed information. The findings were terrifying.

Minimata Disease

In 1956, the city of Minimata in Japan was overrun with a sickness that caused the local inhabitants to have extreme convolutions and in many cases resulted in death. After experimenting, researchers determined that Minimata disease "was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater.(Boston University)" The high levels of mercury that was taken in by the locals through drinking water and consumption of fish, had had overwhelming neurological effects. Non-symptomatic residents had almost fifty times the level of mercury that was considered average for those who had not been exposed. Those that were symptomatic showed levels almost two-hundred times the average. Since the years of this catastrophic event, mercury levels have been observed and controlled, but there is still an "acceptable" amount of mercury that can be present in water.

Mercury Today

"Healthcare providers and laboratories are report the results of blood or urine mercury tests...when mercury is at or above" 5ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) for blood and 20 ng/mL for urine(Department of Health). Though these numbers may seem minuscule to some, determining what should be considered mercury poisoning could be the first step in identifying some, if not all, cases of anxiety. Much like the shaky, convulsive effects that were observed in Minimata, anxiety can be accompanied by less concerning and less spastic shaking. Could these small amounts of mercury contribute to a disease that has been observed for decades, if not centuries? The photo below seemed to cooperate with all of the data collected. Many individuals from California not only seemed a bit more care free than those from North Carolina and surrounding states, but when asked about anxiety, the Californians expressed that they felt that the anxiety that they had grown to know was that that seemed normal and did not have much of a hindrance on their days. On the other end of the spectrum, individuals on the east coast seemed a bit more tense and spoke out about how they felt as though the anxiety they felt was not normal and could disrupt certain social and personal aspects of their lives. Both a psychologist and biologist could say that it is possible that many psychological and biological aspects could actually be state or region-specific, but from the research that I have compiled and the numerous individuals I have spoken with from different regions and even different countries it seems as though there must be something in the water.

Mercury Levels


Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed 21 Oct. 2019.

Boston University. “Minimata Disease.” Boston University Sustainability,

Department of Health. “Understanding Mercury Exposure Levels.” New York State,

Mayo Clinic. “Anxiety Disorders.” Mayo Clinic,


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