This information was provided by
Atomic number: 80
Atomic weight: 200.59 (2)
Group in periodic table: 12
Period in periodic table: 6
Block in periodic table: d-block
CAS registry ID: 7439-97-6
Standard state: liquid at 298 K (the heaviest known
Colour: silvery white
|Atomic Number: 80
Configuration: [Xe] 4f145d106s2
|Atomic Mass: 200.59
||Melting Point(°C): -38.87
||Boiling Point(°C): 356.58
|Number of Neutrons: 121
||CAS Registry ID: 7439-97-6
|Standard state (at
room temp.): Liquid
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
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
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.
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
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
Copyright 1993-2000 Mark Winter
[The University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK]
Document modification date: 10 July 2000
Chemical Safety Cards
Atomic mass: 200.6
CAS # 7439-97-6
RTECS # OV4550000
ICSC # 0056
UN # 2809
EC # 080-001-00-0
combustible. Gives off irritating or
toxic fumes (or gases) in a fire.
contact with flammable substances.
case of fire in the surroundings: all
extinguishing agents allowed.
of fire and explosion on contact with
incompatible substances (see Chemical
case of fire: keep drums, etc., cool by
spraying with water.
HYGIENE! AVOID EXPOSURE OF (PREGNANT)
WOMEN! AVOID EXPOSURE OF ADOLESCENTS AND
ALL CASES CONSULT A DOCTOR!
pain. Cough. Diarrhoea. Shortness of
exhaust or breathing protection.
air, rest. Artificial respiration if
indicated. Refer for medical attention.
gloves. Protective clothing.
contaminated clothes. Rinse and then
wash skin with water and soap. Refer for
shield, or eye protection in combination
with breathing protection.
rinse with plenty of water for several
minutes (remove contact lenses if easily
possible), then take to a doctor.
not eat, drink, or smoke during work.
Wash hands before eating.
for medical attention.
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
to contain effluent from fire
extinguishing. Separated from azides,
acetylene, ammonia, food and feedstuffs.
Well closed. Ventilation along the
material. Do not transport with food and
UN Hazard Class: 8
UN Packing Group: III
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON BACK
in the context of cooperation
between the International
Programme on Chemical Safety
& the Commission of the
European Communities © IPCS CEC
International Chemical Safety Cards
ODOURLESS, HEAVY AND MOBILE
SILVERY LIQUID METAL.
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
OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE LIMITS
TLV: ppm; 0.025 mg/m3
(as TWA) (skin) (ACGIH
MAK: 0.01 ppm; 0.1 mg/m3;
The substance can be
absorbed into the body by
inhalation and through the skin
, also as a vapour!
A harmful contamination of
the air can be reached very
quickly on evaporation of this
substance at 20°C.
EFFECTS OF SHORT-TERM
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
EFFECTS OF LONG-TERM OR
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
Melting point: -39°C
Relative density (water = 1):
Solubility in water: none
pressure, Pa at 20°C: 0.26
Relative vapour density (air =
Relative density of the vapour/air-mixture
at 20°C (air = 1): 1.009
substance is very toxic to aquatic
organisms. In the food chain important
to humans, bioaccumulation takes place,
specifically in fish.
O T E S
on the degree of exposure, periodic
medical examination is indicated. No
odour warning if toxic concentrations
are present. Do NOT take working clothes
IPCS, CEC, 1993
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.