Historically, the element, mercury, has been widely applied in industry, agriculture, and medicine. The role of mercury in technological progress and therapeutic benefits has generally been quickly accepted despite sketchy trial-and-error methods used to evaluate its overall impact. The discovery of the negative side effects of mercury, such as degradation of the environment and the accompanying threat to human health, has often been overlooked, sometimes for centuries. Mercury Contamination: A Human Tragedy (Wiley-Interscience 1977) describes both historical and current applications of quicksilver, the impact on human beings and the environment, and the social and legal efforts to reform the abuses. The following exerpts are taken from the impact of mercury on human beings and the environment in various parts of the world.