Is Mercuray toxic

Colin Green cgreen at mail.globalnet.co.uk
Fri Mar 20 17:59:32 EST 1998

Certainly mercury salts are toxic, but saying mecury metal is not toxic is
deceiving to say the least - the events surrounding discharge of mercury
into Minimata bay in Japan reflect the problems with metallic mercury.

Although metallic mercury is not directly toxic, it is readily absorped as
a vapour via the lungs.  Once it reaches the blood stream, it is converted
to the mercurous salt (Hg++) and this has a direct nephrotoxic affect on
the proximal tubule (c.f. mercuric chloride - HgCl2).

The other principle method that metallic mercury can present a hazard is
via waste discharge ("Minimata disease").  Metallic mecury is easily
metabolised in the environment by bacteria to form methylmercury -
Hg(CH3)2.  This can accumulate through the food chain and causes
neurological problems in both adults and children but was also linked to
cerebral palsy in the foetus - there may also have been other teratogenic

Exposure to the small amounts of mecury present in a thermometer should be
avoided if at all possible - swallowing is not recommended!  But, IMO, the
small amounts in most thermometers should not present a large risk unless
the victim is particularly young - after all mercury has been used in
dental amalgams for years.  Unfortunately, I don't have the TLEVs or other
numerical data to hand to give hard figures on "safe" levels.  If exposure
does occur, seek professional medical advice as always.

C Green

marei <marei at xpoint.at> wrote in article <350dab27.1 at info.xpoint.at>...
> I have tried to know whether Mercury is toxic or not. I am getting a lot
> confusion answers. Mercury salts are toxic, however, is the swallowing of
> Mercury in small amount (thermometer) is it dangerous.
> I have once read that Mercury metal would not have any effect
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