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Created by Portland State Multimedia Capstone Winter 2015
What is Mercury?
Mercury is an element that can be found in soil, air, and water all around the world. It exists in different states such as elemental or metallic mercury. It can also mix with different chemicals to form organic and/or inorganic mercury compounds
Types of Mercury
The most common of these is elemental mercury that appears to be silver-white in color and liquid at room temperature. At high temperatures elemental mercury vaporizes into a colorless and odorless gas.
Inorganic mercury is less common and usually found in disinfectants and fungicides. Inorganic mercury undergoes a biological process in an aqueous environment, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, which produces organic methylmercury. The fish of the aqueous environment are susceptible to the methylmercury and often contain high levels of it.
Organic mercury is also known as methylmercury and can be found in the natural environment. Elemental and methylmercury are considered highly toxic to humans because of its ability to cross the blood-brain and placental barriers and can cause neurological damage. Organic mercury is not as toxic but can cause significant damage in high exposures.