The Chemistry of Mercury

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It's Elemental

Mercury also forms compounds with other elements. Interestingly, one of such compounds — mercury nitrate — played a role in the coining of the term "mad as a hatter. In the 18th century people used the mercury nitrate compound to clean the pelts before they turned them into hats.

Other common mercury compounds include mercuric chloride HgCl 2 — a highly poisonous salt and that was once used as a wound disinfectant. Another example is mercurous chloride Hg 2 Cl 2 , also known as calomel — an antiseptic used to kill bacteria, according to the Jefferson Lab. Mercuric sulfide HgS is used to make a red paint pigment called vermilion, and mercuric oxide HgO is used to make mercury batteries. Due to mercury's toxic potential, researchers keep stumbling upon ways in which the element may be harmful to humans and the environment.

For example, scientists have argued about the potential toxicity of amalgam used in dental fillings that contains about 50 percent mercury.

Properties of Mercury

In a review of literature published in in the journal Gesundheitswesen, researchers found that exposure to mercury in dental fillings could lead to kidney and autoimmunity problems, neurobehavioral changes and even autism. However, in another review , published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, investigators came to a different conclusion, stating that: "The amount of mercury released from dental amalgam is minimal; a person would have to have amalgam surfaces for there to be enough mercury vapor and ionic mercury given off from amalgam fillings to meet the maximum exposure guidelines.

Upon reviewing scientific evidence, the FDA concluded that "dental amalgam fillings safe for adults and children ages 6 and above," according to the agency's website. There is also a growing body of research on methylmercury — the most toxic form of mercury — and its harmful effects on the environment and human health.

Properties of mercury:

People get exposed to methylmercury mainly through eating contaminated fish and seafood that pick up the toxic compound from the ocean. You will not receive a reply. Skip to main content Skip to "About government". Report a problem or mistake on this page.

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My Service Canada Account. U [DBID]. Incompatible with strong acids, sodium thiosulfate, ammonium hydroxide.

Do not use in the open laboratory. Click to predict properties on the Chemicalize site. Search ChemSpider: Compounds with the same molecular formula Compounds with the same skeleton Use this molecule in a structure search.

Mercury Stability

Metal: Silver-white, heavy, odorless liquid. Good ventilation. Alfa Aesar Irritation eyes, skin; cough, chest pain, dyspnea breathing difficulty , bronchitis, pneumonitis; tremor, insomnia, irritability, indecision, headache, lassitude weakness, exhaustion ; stomatitis, s alivation; gastrointestinal disturbance, anorexia, weight loss; proteinuria NIOSH OV metal.

Acetylene, ammonia, chlorine dioxide, azides, calcium amalgam formation , sodium carbide, lithium, rubidium, copper NIOSH OV metal. Elemental mercury of oxidation state zero. Personal Collections. Publication or Magazine Article.