LABORATORY CHEMICAL SAFETY SUMMARY: MERCURY

Substance

Mercury

(Quicksilver, hydrargyrum)

CAS 7439-97-6

 

Formula

Hg

 

Physical Properties

Silvery, mobile liquid

bp 357 °C, mp -39 °C

Very slightly soluble in water (0.002 g/100 mL at 20 °C)

 

Odor

Odorless

 

Vapor Density

6.9 (air = 1.0)

 

Vapor Pressure

0.0012 mmHg at 20 °C

 

Flash Point

Noncombustible

 

Toxicity Data

LCLO inhal (rabbit)

29 mg/m3 (30 h)

 

PEL (OSHA)

0.1 mg/m3 (ceiling)

 

TLV-TWA (ACGIH)

0.025 mg/m3—skin

Major Hazards

Repeated or prolonged exposure to mercury vapor is highly toxic to the central nervous system.

Toxicity

The acute toxicity of mercury varies significantly with the route of exposure. Ingestion is largely without effects. Inhalation of high concentrations of mercury causes severe respiratory irritation, digestive disturbances, and marked kidney damage. There are no warning properties for exposure to mercury vapor, which is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

Toxicity caused by repeated or prolonged exposure to mercury vapor or liquid is characterized by emotional disturbances, inflammation of the mouth and gums, general fatigue, memory loss, headaches, tremors, anorexia, and weight loss. Skin absorption of mercury and mercury vapor adds to the toxic effects of vapor inhalation. At low levels the onset of symptoms is insidious; fine tremors of the hand, eyelids, lips, and tongue are often the presenting complaints. Mercury has been reported to be capable of causing sensitization dermatitis. Mercury has not been shown to be a human carcinogen or reproductive toxin

Flammability and Explosibility

Mercury is not combustible.

Reactivity and Incompatibility

Mercury is a fairly unreactive metal that is highly resistant to corrosion. It can dissolve a number of metals, such as silver, gold, and tin, forming amalgams. Mercury can react violently with acetylene and ammonia.



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