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"Minamata disease" is the term used to describe the poisoning that occurred among residents of Minamata, Japan due to the ingestion of methyl-mercury-containing seafood. From the 1920s through the 1960s, the Chisso Company used mercury as a catalyst in the production of acetaldehyde, a chemical intermediate with numerous uses including plastics and perfume production. The Chisso Company dumped waste methylmercury from the acetaldehyde production into Minamata Bay. The methylmercury bioaccumulated within the food chain, from plankton and other microorganisms up to fish and shellfish. This posed a significant health hazard to residents of the area who obtained much of their protein from Minamata Bay seafood.

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Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture,Japan in 1956.It was caused by the release of methyl mercury.This highly toxic chemical bioaccumulated in shellfish and fish in minamata bay and the shiranui sea.