What is Mercury
Mercury is a metallic element with the symbol Hg. Its atomic number is 80, mercury is also called quicksilver or hydrargyrum.
Mercury is the d-block element and it is the only liquid metal at standard temperature and pressure. Compared to other metals, it is a weak conductor of heat but a good conductor of electricity.
|Appearance||liquid, silvery, shiny|
|Standard atomic weight||200.592|
|Group In periodic table||12|
|The period in periodic table||6|
|Block in periodic table||d-block|
|Phase at STP||liquid|
|Melting point||234.3210 K|
|Boiling point||629.88 K|
Who discovered Mercury
Mercury has been used since ancient times, but we do not know exactly who discovered it. This element was used by the Chinese, Hindus, and Egyptians in ancient times, mercury found in Egyptian tombs dating back to years before Christ ( 1500 B.C ).
Aristotle named this element hydroargyros in his book, translation of this chosen name is liquid-silver or water-silver.
The Romans changed this name to hydrargyrum which we use in its short form for its symbol, Hg. Mercury is a common name that we use nowadays, this name has been chosen by alchemists. Alchemists due to this element’s appearance ( liquid, shiny, silvery) named it as same as mercury planet.
The fastest-moving planet is mercury, mercury ( metal) is also a rapid liquid, so the speed is common between these two and this is the reason for naming this element as mercury.
How is mercury found in nature
Mercury is very rarely found in the earth’s crust, just 0.08 ppm ( part per million). Mercury is found in crustal rocks, especially coal. The concentration of mercury in the ore is high because it does not react with other elements that are abundant in the earth’s crust.
Mercury is found as a native metal, or in some minerals such as cinnabar, sphalerite, metacinnabar, etc. Cinnabar is the most founded one. Mercury ores are usually found in very young orogenic belts.
Abandoned mercury mines pose many risks to the environment. Toxic waste that remains can be washed away with water and infiltrate other areas. These abandoned mines can be cleaned and reused for other purposes.
Mercury elements facts
There are some interesting facts about mercury:
Mercury is the only metal that is in the liquid phase at standard temperature and pressure. Another liquid element is bromine from halogens. On the surface, mercury forms like rounded beans because it has high surface tension.
Although mercury and all its compounds are toxic, it has historically been used in medicine.
Hg is a modern symbol for mercury. It’s come from another name of mercury, hydrargyrum. Hydrargyrum is a Greek word.
Mercury is a rare element that is mostly found in cinnabar minerals, it is mercuric sulfide. Vermilion is a mercuric sulfide that is used as a source of red pigment.
Mercury is not used in aircraft at all because it reacts with aluminum, the metal that makes up aircraft. If this reaction occurs, the aluminum oxide layer that protects it from oxidizing, going to be disrupted. In this way, aluminum gets corroded in the same way as iron.
Mercury doesn’t react with most of the acidic liquid or substances.
Unlike other metals, mercury is not a good conductor of heat and conducts less electricity than others. The freezing point and boiling point of mercury metal are closer to each other than other metals.
Most common oxidation state is +1 or +2 but sometimes it has +4 oxidation state. The electron configuration causes mercury to behave like a noble gas. Like noble gases, mercury reacts poorly with other elements. Mercury can form amalgams with all other metals except iron, that’s why that iron is a suitable choice for transporting and holding mercury.
Mercury is the only element that has retained its alchemical name from ancient times to the present day. Element mercury had been named for the Roman god mercury. The usage and discovering of mercury date back to more than 1500 BC.
Mercury element uses
Mercury is used in the chemical industry, also in electronic applications. Mercury thermometers are also widely used at high temperatures. Gaseous mercury is used in fluorescent lights, this application is increasing day by day. In some other applications, mercury replaces with others to have less toxic products as a result.
Mercury and its compounds are used in medicine. Amalgam is a material used in dentistry for decayed teeth. Amalgam is based on mercury metal. Thimerosal is used for preservation in vaccines, in thimerosal mercury is exists, too. According to mercury’s side effects thimerosal going to remove or reduce from vaccines
In some countries merbromin (mercurochrome) still is being used. It is a topical antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes. Merbromin is another compound of mercury.
Although the use of mercury for the treatment can be caused poisoning, in traditional medicine, especially traditional Chinese medicine, cinnabar is still used for treatment. Cinnabar is the most founded ore of mercury.
For producing chlorine and caustic soda we use mercury cells. This method is electrolysis, by transferring electrons between cathode and anode metallic sodium gets separated from chlorine gas and NaOH ( caustic soda ) produce as a by-product.
Medical mercury thermometers are used at high temperatures. The use of this type of thermometer is gradually diminishing and is being replaced and eliminated.
Mercury is also used in space science. Transit telescopes use mirrors that contain a basin of mercury, This creates a flat, perfectly aligned mirror that can focus light at a point regularly. Telescopes that use this type of mirror have better vision.
Calomel electrode is an electrode that builds from liquid mercury, in electrochemistry calomel electrode is an alternative for standard hydrogen electrode. This electrode is used to test the ability of half-cells.
Uncontaminated electrodes are essential for polarography experiments. Dropping mercury electrodes and hanging mercury drop electrodes are among these kinds of electrodes.
Fluorescent lamps, neon signs, advertising signs, and in general mercury-vapor lamps made from gaseous mercury. As a scientific application, the narrow lights emitted by these lamps are used in spectroscopy. Gaseous mercury is also used in electron tubes. In medical, gaseous mercury is used in lamps which are for skin tanning and disinfection.
DSAC stands for Deep Space Atomic Clock. It’s an under development clock which requires low energy and suitable for space probes or Mars missions. It’s an ion-trap-based clock that uses mercury in its linear.
In the cosmetic industry mercury is used as a thiomersal to producing mascara. In some skincare products, elementary mercury has been used.
As a primary explosive in firearms, a special compound of mercury gets used. This compound is mercury (ll) fulminate.
It should be noted that the medical applications of mercury are declining day by day and countries are imposing restrictions on it, as is the case with the cosmetics industry.
Is mercury toxic
Mercury and all its compounds are toxic and can affect the central and peripheral nervous systems. Inhalation of mercury directly harms the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, it’s able to damage lungs and kidneys and in serious cases can be fatal.
Contact with mercury is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal tract. Swallowed mercury causes kidney poisoning. In addition, neurological and behavioral disorders can be expected after any contact, inhalation, or use of unreliable products.
The toxicity of mercury has led to its applications tending to be more scientific and to avoid places that are in direct contact with the general public.
The foods or products we eat every day may contain very little mercury, which is not dangerous for the body, but if it enters the body in large quantities, it will definitely cause poisoning.
The common form of mercury that causes poisoning is methylmercury or organic mercury which can find its way to our body by consuming foods such as seafood.
Symptoms in adults:
- Hearing difficulties
- Speech difficulties
- Muscle weakness
- Nerve loss in hands or face
- Memory problems
- Vision changes
Symptoms in children:
- Speech and language development
- Visual-spatial awareness
- Mercury poisoning from fish
All types of fish carry some mercury in their bodies, which enters the body of the fish from the water in which they live. Methylmercury is a form of mercury that is found in fish. Depending on the size of the fish, the amount of mercury you get from eating it varies. Larger fish have more mercury than small fish.
To prevent fish poisoning, we must be careful how much we consume seafood.
Other causes of mercury poisoning
In addition to consuming mercury in food, contact with mercury or inhaling its vapor can also cause poisoning.
- Broken mercury thermometers that people can touch or breathe mercury vapor in the air.
- Silver dental filling
- Breathing and working in industrial environments where mercury is used.
- Use of counterfeit skincare products.