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Mercury - Physical and Chemical Properties


This information was provided by WebElements. http://www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/text/Hg/key.html

The Essentials

Name:
French: mercure
German: Quecksilber
Italian: mercurio
Spanish: mercurio

Symbol: Hg
Atomic number: 80
Atomic weight: 200.59 (2)
Group in periodic table: 12
Group name:
Period in periodic table: 6
Block in periodic table: d-block
CAS registry ID: 7439-97-6

Description

Standard state: liquid at 298 K (the heaviest known elemental liquid)
Colour: silvery white hgliquid.gif (34927 bytes)

MERCURY

Atomic Number: 80 Electronic Configuration: [Xe] 4f145d106s2
Atomic Mass: 200.59 Melting Point(°C): -38.87
Number of Protons/Electrons: 80 Boiling Point(°C): 356.58
Number of Neutrons: 121 Density(g/cm3): 13.456
Classification: transition metal CAS Registry ID: 7439-97-6
Standard state (at room temp.): Liquid
Naturally occurring isotopes: Hg-194, Hg-196, Hg-197, Hg-197m, Hg-198, Hg-199, Hg-200, Hg-201, Hg-202, Hg-203, Hg-204, Hg-206

Here is a brief description of mercury.

Mercury is the only common metal liquid at ordinary temperatures.  Mercury is sometimes called quicksilver. It rarely occurs free in nature and is found mainly in cinnabar ore (HgS) in Spain and Italy. It is a heavy, silvery-white liquid metal. It is a rather poor conductor of heat as compared with other metals but is a fair conductor of electricity. It alloys easily with many metals, such as gold, silver, and tin. These alloys are called amalgams. Its ease in amalgamating with gold is made use of in the recovery of gold from its ores.

The most important salts are mercuric chloride HgC12 (corrosive sublimate - a violent poison), mercurous chloride Hg2Cl2 (calomel, occasionally still used in medicine), mercury fulminate (Hg(ONC)2, a detonator used in explosives), and mercuric sulphide (HgS, vermillion, a high-grade paint pigment).

Organic mercury compounds are important - and dangerous. Methyl mercury is a lethal pollutant found in rivers and lakes. The main source of pollution is industrial wastes settling to the river and lake bottoms.

As mercury is a very volatile element, dangerous levels are readily attained in air. Mercury vapour should not exceed 0.1 mg m-3 in air. Air saturated with the vapour at 20°C contains mercury in a concentration far greater than that limit. The danger increases at higher temperatures. It is therefore important that mercury be handled with care. Containers of mercury should be securely covered and spillage should be avoided. Mercury should only be handled under in a well-ventilated area. If you are in possession of any mercury you are advised to contact a properly qualified chemist or public health laboratory for its safe disposal. (Does this include the elemental mercury contained in dental amalgam fillings?)

Small amounts of mercury spillage can be cleaned up by addition of sulphur powder. The resulting mixture should be disposed of carefully.

Strange Matter cartoon included by Nick Kim at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.
Hgcartoon.gif (78298 bytes)

Isolation

Here is a brief summary of the isolation of mercury.

The physical appearance of mercury is well known because of its use in many thermometers. It was common to demonstrate the formation of mercury in the laboratory by heating mercury sulphide (cinnabar, HgS) but this is strongly discouraged today because of the toxicity of mercury vapours. Don't do it! However, this method forms the basis of commercial extraction. The prepared cinnabar ore is heated in a current of air and the mercury vapour condensed.

HgS + O2 (600°C) Hg (l) + SO2 (g)

The crude mercury is then washed with nitric acid and treated with air in order to remove impurities as oxides or into solution. Further purification is achieved by distillation at reduced pressure.

WebElementsTM, the periodic table on the WWW
URL: http://www.webelements.com/
Copyright 1993-2000 Mark Winter
[The University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK]
Document modification date: 10 July 2000

http://siri.uvm.edu/msds2/mf/cards/file/0056.html

International Chemical Safety Cards

MERCURY ICSC: 0056
MERCURY
Quicksilver
Liquid silver
Hydrargyrum
Hg
Atomic mass: 200.6
CAS # 7439-97-6 
RTECS # OV4550000
ICSC # 0056
UN # 2809
EC # 080-001-00-0
TYPES OF
HAZARD/
EXPOSURE
ACUTE HAZARDS/
SYMPTOMS
PREVENTION FIRST AID/
FIRE FIGHTING
FIRE Not combustible. Gives off irritating or toxic fumes (or gases) in a fire. NO contact with flammable substances. In case of fire in the surroundings: all extinguishing agents allowed. 
EXPLOSION Risk of fire and explosion on contact with incompatible substances (see Chemical Dangers).   In case of fire: keep drums, etc., cool by spraying with water.
 
EXPOSURE   STRICT HYGIENE! AVOID EXPOSURE OF (PREGNANT) WOMEN! AVOID EXPOSURE OF ADOLESCENTS AND CHILDREN!  IN ALL CASES CONSULT A DOCTOR!
  • INHALATION
Abdominal pain. Cough. Diarrhoea. Shortness of breath. Vomiting. Local exhaust or breathing protection. Fresh air, rest. Artificial respiration if indicated. Refer for medical attention.
  • SKIN
MAY BE ABSORBED! 
Protective gloves. Protective clothing. Remove contaminated clothes. Rinse and then wash skin with water and soap. Refer for medical attention.
  • EYES
  Face shield, or eye protection in combination with breathing protection. First rinse with plenty of water for several minutes (remove contact lenses if easily possible), then take to a doctor.
  • INGESTION

Do not eat, drink, or smoke during work. Wash hands before eating. Refer for medical attention.
SPILLAGE DISPOSAL STORAGE PACKAGING & LABELLING
Evacuate danger area! Consult an expert! Ventilation. Collect leaking and spilled liquid in sealable non-metallic containers as far as possible. Do NOT wash away into sewer. Do NOT let this chemical enter the environment (extra personal protection: complete protective clothing including self-contained breathing apparatus). Provision to contain effluent from fire extinguishing. Separated from azides, acetylene, ammonia, food and feedstuffs. Well closed. Ventilation along the floor.  Special material. Do not transport with food and feedstuffs.
T symbol
R: 23-33
S: (1/2-)7-45
UN Hazard Class: 8
UN Packing Group: III
SEE IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON BACK
ICSC: 0056 Prepared in the context of cooperation between the International Programme on Chemical Safety & the Commission of the European Communities © IPCS CEC 1993

International Chemical Safety Cards

MERCURY ICSC: 0056

I

M

P

O

R

T

A

N

T



D

A

T

A
PHYSICAL STATE; APPEARANCE:
ODOURLESS, HEAVY AND MOBILE SILVERY LIQUID METAL. 




CHEMICAL DANGERS:
Upon heating, toxic fumes are formed. Reacts violently with alkali metals, acetylene, azides, ammonia gas, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, sodium carbide and ethylene oxide. Attacks copper and many other metals forming amalgams. 

OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE LIMITS (OELs):
TLV: ppm; 0.025 mg/m3 (as TWA) (skin) (ACGIH 1994-1995).
MAK: 0.01 ppm; 0.1 mg/m3; (1992). 
ROUTES OF EXPOSURE:
The substance can be absorbed into the body by inhalation and through the skin , also as a vapour! 

INHALATION RISK:
A harmful contamination of the air can be reached very quickly on evaporation of this substance at 20°C. 

EFFECTS OF SHORT-TERM EXPOSURE:
Inhalation of the vapours may cause pneumonitis. The substance may cause effects on the kidneys and the central nervous system. The effects may be delayed. Medical observation is indicated.

EFFECTS OF LONG-TERM OR REPEATED EXPOSURE:
The substance may have effects on the central nervous system and kidneys , resulting in emotional and psychic instability, tremor mercurialis, cognitive disturbances, speech disorders. Danger of cumulative effects. Animal tests show that this substance possibly causes toxic effects upon human reproduction.
PHYSICAL
PROPERTIES
Boiling point: 357°C
Melting point: -39°C
Relative density (water = 1): 13.5
Solubility in water: none 
Vapour pressure, Pa at 20°C: 0.26
Relative vapour density (air = 1): 6.93
Relative density of the vapour/air-mixture at 20°C (air = 1): 1.009
ENVIRONMENTAL
DATA
The substance is very toxic to aquatic organisms. In the food chain important to humans, bioaccumulation takes place, specifically in fish. 
N O T E S
Depending on the degree of exposure, periodic medical examination is indicated. No odour warning if toxic concentrations are present. Do NOT take working clothes home.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
   
ICSC: 0056 MERCURY
© IPCS, CEC, 1993
IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: Neither the CEC or the IPCS nor any person acting on behalf of the CEC or the IPCS is responsible for the use which might be made of this information. This card contains the collective views of the IPCS Peer Review Committee and may not reflect in all cases all the detailed requirements included in national legislation on the subject. The user should verify compliance of the cards with the relevant legislation in the country of use.
 

 

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