ATSDR - Toxic Substances - Mercury
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Mercury

CAS ID #: 7439-97-6

Affected Organ Systems: Developmental (effects during periods when organs are developing) , Gastrointestinal (Digestive), Neurological (Nervous System), Ocular (Eyes), Renal (Urinary System or Kidneys)

Cancer Effects: None

Chemical Classification: Inorganic substances

Summary:

Mercury combines with other elements, such as chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen, to form inorganic mercury compounds or "salts", which are usually white powders or crystals. Mercury also combines with carbon to make organic mercury compounds. The most common one, methylmercury, is produced mainly by microscopic organisms in the water and soil. More mercury in the environment can increase the amounts of methylmercury that these small organisms make.

Metallic Mercury is a dense liquid that vaporizes easily at room temperature. Metallic mercury is not easily absorbed into unbroken skin. However, it vaporizes, even at room temperature. The higher the temperature, the more vapors are released. Mercury vapors are colorless and odorless, though they can be seen with the aid of an ultraviolet light.

Metallic mercury is used to produce chlorine gas and caustic soda, and is also used in thermometers, dental fillings, and batteries. Mercury salts are sometimes used in skin lightening creams and as antiseptic creams and ointments.

Community Members 

Community Members
  • ToxFAQs : Mercury

    Fact sheet that answers the most frequently asked questions about a contaminant and its health effects.

  • ToxFAQs : Metallic Mercury

    Fact sheet that answers the most frequently asked questions about a contaminant and its health effects.

  • Public Health Statement : Mercury

    Summary about a hazardous substance taken from Chapter One of its respective ATSDR Toxicological Profile.

  • National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals

    Provides an ongoing assessment of the exposure of the U.S. population to environmental chemicals using biomonitoring.

  • Emergency Responders 

    Emergency Responders
  • Medical Management Guidelines (MMG) for Acute Chemical Exposure

    Publication intended to aid emergency department physicians and other emergency healthcare professionals who manage acute exposures resulting from chemical incidents.

  • Action Levels (PDF, 579KB*)

    Guidance for action levels in the instance of elemental or metallic mercury releases or spills. The action level guidelines are based on the ATSDR Chronic Minimal Risk Level and the EPA Reference Concentration.

  • Toxicological and Health Professionals 

    Toxicological and Health Professionals
  • Toxicological Profile : Mercury

    Succinctly characterizes the toxicologic and adverse health effects information for a hazardous substance.

  • Addendum to the Profile (PDF, 2521KB*)

    Addendum to the Toxicological Profile for Mercury (March 2013)

  • Priority List of Hazardous Substances

    Prioritization of substances based on a combination of their frequency, toxicity, and potential for human exposure at National Priorities List (NPL) sites.

  • Minimal Risk Levels (MRL)

    The MRL is an estimate of the daily human exposure to a hazardous substance that is likely to be without appreciable risk of adverse, non-cancer health effects over a specified duration of exposure. The information in this MRL serves as a screening tool to help public health professionals decide where to look more closely to evaluate possible risk of adverse health effects from human exposure.

  • Interaction Profiles

    Succintly characterizes the toxicologic and adverse health effects information for mixtures of hazardous substances.

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